A GLORIOUS FIRST SUCCESS IN ITALY. Mikel Landa’s maiden success in Blue colours arrived on stage four of last year’s Tirreno-Adriatico. The Basque climber won atop the Sassotetto summit after a well-timed, intelligent attack on the final section of the climb. That Queen stage success was close to be repeated at the Itzulia Basque Country, where he took runner-up overall -and also 2nd in the final stage up Arrate- behind Primož Roglič. A similar story happened at the Vuelta a Andalucía: Mikel was really close to a victory on stage four (Alcalá de los Gazules), where he finished 2nd en route to 6th overall following the TT showdown in Barbate.
HAMPERED BY INJURIES. He joined the Movistar Team with excitement and ready to take on the Grand Tours, yet his ambitions were ruined by two tough crashes last season. The first one occurred at the Tour de France, which he miraculously finished in 7th place overall. The Murgia native went down on the dreadful stage nine, on an asphalt section between ‘secteurs pavés’ towards Roubaix, and suffered under the blows of that incident for the subsequent two weeks, most notably pain to his back. Misfortune didn’t stop there, as few weeks later, Landa had to abandon the Clásica San Sebastián into a pile-up with 20km remaining. The fractures and blows prevented him from starting the Vuelta a España and ultimately conditioned his performance all the way down to the end of the season.
TWO GIROS TO REMEMBER. Following three years full of difficulties and injuries, 2015 brought a bright new start to Landa’s career in the Giro d’Italia. He was the strongest rider in the mountains -won conseuctive mountain-top finishes in Madonna di Campiglio and Aprica– and finished 3rd overall in Milan behind Contador and team-mate Fabio Aru, for whom he sacrified his individual chances. Months later, Landa again became key for Fabio’s overall success in the Vuelta a España, where the Basque claimed a stage win. In 2017, a crash early in the Giro d’Italia prevented him from contesting overall glory. However, he was the most solid rider over the final week of racing, with a stage win atop Piancavallo, two second places and the blue jersey as King of the Mountains.
Eusebio Unzué tried twice to have him on his teams. The first attempt came as Euskaltel disbanded in 2013; the second, when Landa left Astana at the end of 2015. The third was the good one, and in August 2017, Unzué got the rider he had always been longing for.
Breeded at the Fundación Euskadi, the development proyect which also gave birth to the now-defunct Euskaltel-Euskadi team, Landa took a step forward in August 2017 to support the Fundación, whose existence was in severe danger, and save the amateur Euskadi team. Named chairman of the association, the Fundación team, which just celebrated its 25 years of history, already has a UCI Continental squad, which will be followed by a non-UCI women’s team in 2019. The Zuia native has thus taking the initial steps to also promote gender equality in ‘his’ squad.
- Dedicates ’18 Tirreno stage win to Scarponi.
- Battered after his crash towards Roubaix (2018 TDF).
- Winning stage 19 of the 2017 Giro in Piancavallo.
- Just 1″ off the final GC podium in the 2017 TDF.