Sky’s Mikel Landa is setting his sights on the Giro d’Italia, perhaps the strongest hint yet that Chris Froome won’t take on the Italian grand tour next year.
There’s been a quiet buzz building that Froome might race the Giro’s centenary edition, and though the three-time Tour de France champion has yet to finalize his schedule, comments from Landa suggest that the Basque rider will be Sky’s main general classification (GC) candidate for 2017.
“The Giro is going to be the big objective again next year,” Landa told the Spanish sports daily MARCA. “We will bring a competitive team. My calendar will be more or less the same as last year … with Tirreno, Catalunya, and Giro del Trentino to arrive at the Giro in top shape.”
Froome and Sky have been hinting that a Giro start could be possible in 2017, including strong comments he made at the end of the Vuelta a España. Froome hasn’t raced the Giro since 2010, and since he emerged as a grand tour powerhouse in 2011, has slipped into a familiar — and highly successful — pattern of racing the Tour and Vuelta in succession. Three times second at the Vuelta, and three times victorious in the Tour, Froome very likely will want to stick to what works in 2017.
And for Landa, who was dogged by health issues and setbacks in his debut in a Sky jersey last year, getting back to what works best for him is the first priority. And that means heading back to the Giro, where he won two stages and rode to third overall in his breakout season in 2015.
“For me, for its terrain and its weather, the Giro is the grand tour that fits me best,” Landa said. “Even though every year, the courses change, so there will be years I focus on the Giro, and others on the Vuelta. On paper, the Giro is the best of the grand tours that suits my style.”
Landa, who has emerged as one of Spain’s most promising new young riders, also said he had an offer to switch to the new Bahrain team, but decided to finish off his two-year commitment to Sky.
“They were interested in signing me, but I came to Sky with the intention of finishing the two years of the contract that I signed with them, and it never occurred to me to leave,” he said. “Those are things that my manager handles, and I never had interest in leaving.”