Giro d'Italia

Landa leads Valverde-less Movistar at Giro

Landa is hopeful he's back to full strength in time for the Giro following an injury-plagued season

A recovered Mikel Landa leads Spain’s “Blues” into the Giro d’Italia without world champion Alejandro Valverde.

Valverde cited injuries and stress last week when Movistar confirmed the veteran Spaniard will not start the 102nd edition of the corsa rosa. Andrey Amador, fourth overall in 2015, will replace Valverde for the season’s first grand tour, team officials confirmed Monday.

Landa is hoping to bounce back from a string of crashes dating back to last year’s Tour de France that have hampered his performances since joining Movistar in a high-profile deal.

“Things are starting to look up,” Landa told the Spanish daily Marca. “I ended the [2018] with a crash, and started this year the same way. They were not complicated injuries, but they need the time to heal up properly. It’s been frustrating, but things are on track for the Giro.”

Landa, third overall in the 2015 Giro, will be co-captain with Richard Carapaz, one of the revelations in last year’s Giro with fourth overall. Carapaz won the Vuelta a Asturias over the weekend for the second year in a row in what’s a good sign that the Ecuadorian climber is in good form.

Landa, who helped Carapaz win the “queen stage” and secure the GC, pulled out of Asturias with pain in his foot caused by a toenail. Team officials said Landa, who crashed in his first race to open 2019, is otherwise ready to race the Giro, and did not want to risk his preparation for the Italian grand tour.

“I have good sensations going to the Giro,” Carapaz said. “I have good legs and a lot of motivation to give everything, and do good work for my team.”

Landa and Carapaz will be riding for the podium and stage victories. Joining Amador in support will be veteran J.J. Rojas, Jasha Sutterlin, Lluis Mas and Antonio Pedrero, with grand tour rookie Hector Carretero.