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Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a España: Mikel Landa plays down chance of finding miracle form

'I would like to be competitive, but this time I don't arrive in the same form,' says Bahrain-Victorious rider.

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Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) has reaffirmed his belief that he is not in the right shape to go for overall glory at the Vuelta a España this month, but says he hopes people will continue to be excited by his racing.

Landa returned to racing at the Vuelta a Burgos at the start of August, his first race since finishing third at the Giro d’Italia. The five-day race was the litmus test for his Vuelta bid, and he came through in 44th overall without anything close to a stage win.

With just two weeks to find the form he needed, he told the Spanish press at the time that making the final rostrum for the second time this season was highly unlikely and he would look to stage wins. While we may not see him mixing it at the front of the GC pack, he will hopefully be able to show some of his usual attacking flair.

“I would like to be competitive, but this time I don’t arrive in the same form as at other times or in other races. I’m not here to fight for the general, it’s a shame I’m not a little better, but in any case, I’ll give everything I can. We’ll see if I can look for the GC or partial successes. I hope that people continue to be excited about me,” Landa told the media in a press conference.

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Part of Landa’s form issue is down to a problem he’s had with his psoas muscles, a pair of muscles that run from the lumbar portion of the spine down to the hip. It has been a recurring problem for Landa and it saw him have to take around a month off the bike.

It left him chasing his form with only a small window to make up for lost time and Landa believes that it wasn’t enough.

“The problem before Burgos stopped me for a month, and then I trained well until here, but I’ve had little time and miracles can’t be done,” he said.

Bahrain-Victorious’ general classification hopes for the Vuelta a España have taken something of a hit in the buildup to the race. In addition to Landa’s disappointing form, Jack Haig had to be pulled from the start list as he continues to recover from injury.

If Landa’s predictions come to fruition and he does slump out of the overall classification fight, the team is likely to look to Gino Mäder for a GC result. The Swiss rider finished fifth overall at the race last year and came home with the white jersey.

Repeating that, or doing better, is going to be a tough challenge with a long list of strong overall contenders due to line up in Utrecht on Friday.

“There is a wide range of favorites. Primož Roglič is number one, but there are other candidates like Richard Carapaz, Jai Hindley, Miguel Ángel López and even ourselves. You have to spend a few days to see how each one is doing,” Landa said.