Landa eyeing Giro, País Vasco, San Sebastián in Astana blue
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Friday, November 29, 2013

Landa eyeing Giro, País Vasco, San Sebastián in Astana blue

by Kyle Moore at 10:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Former Euskaltel-Euskadi rider hoping to gel quickly with more diverse Kazakh squad

Mikel LandaIn a difficult free agent market, Mikel Landa was one of the first riders swept up after the Basque team Euskaltel-Euskadi closed down, a prime indication of the potential that exists in the 23-year-old. Landa was a big signing by Team Astana, and as 2014 approaches, he is thinking about races he’d like to take on, while hoping that he can fit in quickly after changing team colours and team environments.

Landa rode three full years as a professional with Euskaltel-Euskadi, taking on a more prominent role, and more racing days, with each passing year. The Basque rider was truly a Euskaltel-Euskadi product, as he came up to the pro ranks by way of the Orbea development squad.

Astana announced their signing of Landa at the beginning of October, with team manager Alexander Vinokourov stating that, “With him on board next year, we add a very talented young stage racer with definite, positive prospects for our own ambitions.” Vinokourov went on to indicate that Landa could be active for the team in July, in which case he would be a top support rider in the Tour de France for Vincenzo Nibali.

In an interview with Spanish website MARCA, Landa names the Giro d’Italia as a dream race, along with several of his home tours. And no matter his specific program, Landa is hoping to mold quickly with his Astana team-mates.

“Euskaltel-Euskadi was a much smaller team, and it was like a big family,” Landa explained. “Now, in Astana, everything is different. Now we have many mixed languages, new people, different cultures. I hope to get used to it quickly.

“I’ll take on the challenge with great respect. I’ll have to do it little by little, but I know that I have a lot I can give. They have shown confidence in me, and that gives me peace of mind. I feel valued within the squad, especially after seeing what happened with [my old team]. I have wanted to do great things here.”

At just 23 years of age, Landa lacks the brashness that a prompt signing by one of the world’s biggest teams could have given him. Furthermore, he still laments what happened to Euskaltel-Euskadi, and the rollercoaster route it took to its end.

“The situation with my former team-mates is very disturbing and alarming,” he admitted. “Not many are left with a team, and some will be forced to retire. It is truly sad to have seen this outcome.”

While he said he hasn’t yet discussed any potential race programme with Astana bosses, Landa does allow himself to think about performing in certain races in 2014.

“I think I’ll have my moments this year, depending on how long it takes to adapt,” Landa concluded. “I’d love to compete in the Giro d’Italia, which is one of the most exciting races. There are also my home races, such as the Vuelta al País Vasco, Clásica San Sebastián, and the Volta a Catalunya.”

Landa showed flashes of his Grand Tour pedigree in the Vuelta a España in September, climbing to Collada de la Gallina in Andorra on stage 14, finishing ninth.

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