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RICHMOND, Virginia (VN) — Team Sky continues to bolster its 2016 lineup, confirming the arrival of Spanish climber Mikel Landa for next season.
The 25-year-old Basque rider enjoyed a breakout season with Astana, winning two stages and riding to third overall at the Giro d’Italia. At Sky, Landa will see more freedom and leadership opportunities than he did when he was racing behind Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru at Astana.
“He has shown he is one of the best climbers in the world, and he is only 25 years old,” said Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford. “We are very excited at the opportunity of developing this young rider over the coming years.”
The powerful UK outfit has been revealing its new riders for next season over the past several days. Other arrivals include Alex Peters (stagiaire), Gianni Moscon, fourth in the U23 world championship road race Friday, Michal Golas (Etixx-Quick-Step), Danny van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing), and Beñat Intxausti (Movistar).
Sky announced there would be seven new faces for 2016, and with the confirmation of Landa, there’s one more left to go. It’s anticipated that 2014 world champion Michal Kwiatkowski will be the final rider to join Sky for next season.
Sky is an interesting player on the rider market. With established Tour de France leader Chris Froome, the team has been signing riders to support the Tour effort, as well as to round out the team’s ability to compete in all terrain. Van Poppel will give Sky an extra card to play in the sprints, while Intxausti will be another motor for the mountains.
Landa will slot into the role vacated by Richie Porte, who will join BMC Racing next year. Landa will give the team a leader for races such as the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, and he’ll be ready to help Froome in the mountains of France.
“Mikel is a rider we have followed closely for the last four or five years,” Brailsford said. “He really stepped up at the Giro d’Italia this year, but we had already identified him as a target.”
Speaking to the Spanish newspaper DEIA last week, Landa said Sky will give him more opportunities to race for his own chances.
“[At Astana] there wasn’t room for another leader, so that’s why I took the decision. [Sky] offered me something that Astana didn’t,” Landa said. “I demonstrated this season that I can win a grand tour, and to do that, I need a team built around me, and Sky offers me that.”