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The Bahrain Victorious captain is putting the Tour at the center of his ambitions next season.
Speaking to the Noticias de Gupizkoa, a team source told the Basque newspaper Landa is all-in on the Tour.
“He knows what it takes to race the Tour, and even more so when it starts at home,” a team official said. “He doesn’t want to miss that chance for anything in the world. That only happens once in a lifetime.
“We know that in the Tour that [Tadej] Pogačar and [Jonas] Vingegaard, as they’ve already demonstrated, are above everyone else, but behind them, there is a group of riders who can fight for the podium, and that’s where Mikel wants to be.”
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Landa, by his own admission, will be setting his ambitions a bit lower than the Tour’s terrible twosome.
The Tour podium is an evasive target for Landa.
In 2018, Landa missed the Tour podium by one second and has regretted that near-miss ever since. He was fourth again in 2020 in a move to Bahrain after two unhappy seasons at Movistar.
After hitting stride again with third at the 2022 Giro d’Italia, Landa decided to steer clear of the Italian grand tour in part because the course is laden with time trial kilometers.
In contrast, the 2023 Tour sees the least amount of time trials in a generation.
It’s the Basque Country start that is the final tipping point for Landa.
“That makes it even more important for Landa,” the official said. “No one wants to miss the most important race in the world, especially when with three days in the Basque Country.”
— ESPN Ciclismo (@ESPNCiclismo) November 16, 2022
Hype followed Landa ever since he catapulted to the Giro d’Italia podium with third in 2015.
After stints at Ineos Grenadiers and Movistar saw him relegated to a helper’s role or torpedoed by team politics, Landa finally scrapped his way back onto a grand tour podium in May with third at the Giro.
At 33, Landa will be the first to admit he likely won’t be racing to win in July.
Vingegaard and Pogačar will be the five-star favorites for what should be a dazzling tug-of-war for yellow. Behind those two, there are nearly a dozen wannabe contenders for a final spot on the podium.
Egan Bernal might be back in time for a run at the Tour, but there will also be the likes of Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost), Enric Mas (Movistar), Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco), Romain Bardet (DSM), and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ).
Landa will follow a traditional buildup toward the Tour, with a season debut at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in February, Tirreno-Adriatico in March, and the Itzulia Basque Country and Ardennes classics in April.
Altitude camps and a likely start at the Critérium du Dauphiné will lead to the Tour. All roads lead home in 2023.
Last summer, Vingegaard rode a “home road” advantage with a start in Copenhagen in July to fend off Pogačar to win Denmark’s first yellow jersey in 25 years.
Landa will be hoping for similar magic, with three stages set to open in the Basque Country in what’s a very challenging first week in the 2023 Tour.