BUENOS AIRES (VN) — Despite the expected conflicts, Colombian Nairo Quintana welcomes the new firepower Mikel Landa brings to Team Movistar as he points to win his first Tour de France.
The Spanish WorldTour team signed the country’s top stage race talent Mikel Landa last summer after he helped former Sky teammate Chris Froome win the Tour de France.
Landa, who won a stage and the mountains jersey in the Giro d’Italia and finished fourth overall in the Tour, just one second away from third place.
“I think it’s a good option,” Quintana told Marca of Landa’s arrival and addition to the Tour team.
“Each of us has our objectives,” Quintana said. “The idea is to go win the Tour and I think that being in three [with Alejandro Valverde], we can play a great role. It’s not a problem, but a plus.”
Quintana has led Team Movistar over the last five years in the grand tours. He placed second behind Froome in the 2013 Tour, won the 2014 Giro d’Italia, took runner-up again in the 2015 Tour and won the 2016 Vuelta a España.
Most expect a clash between 27-year-old Quintana and 28-year-old Landa this summer. Both decided to skip the Giro to focus on the Tour in 2018.
“2017 was good, not bad. It is true that our expectations weren’t met, but it was not negative either,” continued Quintana, who placed second in the Giro behind Tom Dumoulin and 12th in the Tour.
“This year is going to be different because we are going to focus on the Tour de France and I will surely arrive in better conditions by not racing the Giro. To win the yellow jersey you need to be very lucky and arrive in the best condition. In previous years, we have made mistakes, but this time we will be in the best shape.
“There are going to be many modifications, from the start, we will reduce the number of days of competition to get to the Tour in the best way. I need to be cool to perform well, something that did not happen in 2017 when I opted for the double. We were wrong, but this year will be different.”
Landa is taking the same approach to the Tour, starting July 7 in Vendée. Landa began the Giro the last two seasons as Team Sky’s leader, but bad luck struck both times.
In 2017, a police motorbike caused him and co-leader Geraint Thomas to crash and lose massive time in the overall classification. Landa fought back for the Piancavallo stage win and blue mountain jersey.
“I want to get to the Tour in the best conditions,” Landa said earlier this month. “With a first peak in a powerful way, for that, there is no other option but to sacrifice the Giro.”
Spaniard Valverde, now 37, will lead Team Movistar in the Giro and then head to the Tour alongside Landa and Quintana. Team boss Eusebio Unzué said that they will have to sort the leadership roles on the road.
Landa on the road last year appeared stronger than Sky leader Froome at times, but kept his allegiance and followed orders. Already in other interviews, he said that he would race for himself in the 2018 Tour.
“I was stopped both in teams Astana and Sky when I had legs to win,” Landa explained. “If you tell me to stop again, I won’t. It’s my turn to pursue my goals.”
Landa, however, added that there would be no friction between him and Quintana.
“If the occasion comes, it would be a pleasure for me,” Quintana said of working for Landa. “We are a strong and united team. With Landa, we will be stronger. He is a teammate and I don’t see him as a rival, as they want to make him out to be in the media.”
Quintana will begin his season at home in Colombia at the Oro y Paz stage race.