Mikel Landa excited for racing return

Mikel Landa is raring to make his long-awaited debut at the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali, and is still aiming to lead Team Sky at the Giro d’Italia.

Landa’s first appearance in black and blue was delayed after he picked up a viral infection at the end of January, but the Spaniard has since made a full recovery, and been training hard to ensure he hits the ground running on Wednesday.

An unrelated virus meant Landa had to wait until late March to commence his 2015 campaign, but he battled back on that occasion and went on to earn a third-placed finish at the Giro d’Italia, despite riding primarily in support of Fabio Aru.

Mikel Landa also achieved two stage victories on his way to a podium finish last time around, and will be hoping to head Team Sky’s assault on the Maglia Rosa when the race gets going in Apeldoorn on Friday 6 May.

Coppi e Bartali is the first stepping stone to achieving that: “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a long time since I last competed, but in the last month I’ve been training hard and feeling better every day. I’m fully recovered and ready to go”, said Landa for TeamSky.com.

“When I first returned to the bike it was all about getting the base miles in my legs – long rides at low intensity – but more recently I’ve been adding more and more efforts into my training to prepare myself for the race situation. When the weather wasn’t good in the Basque Country I travelled down to Calpe in the south where the conditions were much warmer. That is a winter base for a lot of Basque riders, so I trained with many of them. Whilst I was down there I had a lot of support from the team as well, making sure I got the best recovery. I worked with them a lot and they were fantastic. They didn’t put any pressure on me and that kept me calm when I might otherwise have been stressed. They were really patient and focused on building my confidence as much as my condition.”

He is now eager to return: “I can’t wait. Being out for so long, my condition is not going to be 100%, and I have to get used to riding at race pace again, but I’m happy to be part of the team again. We’ve had a really good start to the season, winning a lot of races, and I want to be part of that as soon as possible.”

“I just want to help the team perform well and use it to build my form for the Giro d’Italia. I want to go into that race in peak condition, and everything between now and then will be working towards that.”

Landa hopes to lead Sky in Giro d’Italia this season: “I think I can be strong in that race and I know we will have a great team going there. Obviously, a lot can happen in the next few months, but right now I want to go there and try and win it. I’d love to have had more time to prepare for the Giro, to be more relaxed, but it is what it is. Illnesses are common in a sport like this and I’m hoping I can come back just as strong as last year.”