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by Neal Rogers
July 26, 2017
In today’s Daily News Digest: Guardian column: ‘Why I don’t think Froome will win a fifth Tour de France’; Landa: ‘I sacrificed myself without any benefit to the team’ on Izoard stage; BMC Racing announces contract extensions for Bookwalter, De Marchi, Schar, Wyss; Business Insider: Brailsford explains why Froome is so good at winning Tour de France; Nibali set to return to racing at Tour de Pologne in preparation for Vuelta a España; Cycling Australia to allow disc brakes in road racing effective immediately, with exceptions; Quarq launches two new DZero-based power meters; Abbey Bike Tools releases precision Saddle Fit Kit System.
Basque rider Mikel Landa will not return to a Grand Tour without being in a leadership role, he told Spanish newspaper El Pais after his strong performance in Saturday’s Tour de France time trial in Marseille, combined with a poor ride from Romain Bardet, left the Spaniard just one second off the final podium in Paris. The 27-year-old expressed regret and frustration after three weeks riding in a support role for race winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) left him with no stage win and just off the podium.
After his ambition to race for GC at the Giro d’Italia was derailed by a crash on the stage to Blockhaus, Landa bounced back to win the KOM jersey and a mountain stage. He headed to the Tour with no ambitions other than to ride as a domestique, but that changed as he realized he was the strongest climber in the race. After Landa proved stronger than Froome on the steep finish at Peyragudes on Stage 12, he rode into a breakaway on Stage 13 into Foix that included Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Behind, Team Sky rode to keep Quintana close, keeping Landa out of the maillot jaune.
On Stage 18, finishing atop Col d’Izoard, Froome sent Landa up the road from a select group of GC favorites, only to bridge across to Landa, bringing Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) with him. Ultimately Bardet out-sprinted Froome for the remaining time-bonus available, and Landa finished 12 seconds back, meaning Sky got nothing from the effort. Later, Landa would realize those 12 seconds cost him the podium — as did Sky’s chase on Stage 13.
“I’ve always tried to give the best for my leaders and for my teammates,” Landa said. “And sometimes you hope for something in return. No situation is ever the same. On the day of the Izoard, I could have eased off the gas when they caught me, I could have stayed on the wheel, and I would not have lost 12 seconds. But I went to the front, and pulled, just as Froome wanted, even though he wasn’t going that great. He told me to go slower, go slower. I got angry that day because I sacrificed myself without gaining anything positive for the team. Never at any moment did I put Froome’s Tour in danger, and to give up everything without getting anything back, to give up on my own aspirations, that’s what hurts me. That hurts a little bit.”
Landa’s contract at Sky is over at the end of the season, and he is not expected to return to the British squad. The rumor mill has placed him at Movistar, which could present its own challenges on a team built around Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. In the interview with El Pais, Landa suggested he might be focusing on the Giro d’Italia in 2018.
“I would not want to be in this situation again, it’s so frustrating,” said Landa. “Just as I do not need to be remembered as a winner of this or of that, I do not want to be remembered as the one who could have been and was not — the one who had a Giro or Tour in his legs but did not win. I would like to win one, or at least try, and if failure or success comes, let it be for my own sake.”
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