Cycling

Mikel Landa aims for the podium of the Tour de France 2023

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Can Mikel Landa achieve the magic of the Tour de France in 2023 with the 108th edition starting on his home roads in Spain’s Basque Country?

The Bahrain Victorious captain is putting the Tour at the center of his ambitions next season.

Talking with him Gupizkoa NewsA team source told the Basque newspaper that Landa is all-in on the Tour.

“He knows what it takes to compete on the Tour, and even more so when he starts at home,” said a team official. “He doesn’t want to lose that opportunity for the world. That only happens once in a lifetime.

“We know that on the Tour that [Tadej] Pogacar and [Jonas] Vingegaard, as they have already shown, is above everyone else, but behind them is a group of riders who can fight for the podium, and that’s where Mikel wants to be”.

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Landa, by his own admission, will set his ambitions a bit lower than the terrible Tour pairing.

The Tour podium is an elusive goal for Landa.

In 2018, Landa missed the Tour podium by a second and has regretted that near miss ever since. He was fourth again in 2020 on a move to Bahrain after two unhappy seasons at Movistar.

After making a strong comeback with third place at the 2022 Giro d’Italia, Landa decided to walk away from the Italian Grand Tour in part because the course is packed with kilometers of time trials.

In contrast, the 2023 Tour sees the fewest time trials in a generation.

The start in the Basque Country is the final turning point for Landa.

“That makes it even more important for Landa,” the official said. “Nobody wants to miss the most important race in the world, especially when it’s three days in the Basque Country.”

Hype has followed Landa since he catapulted to the Giro d’Italia podium with third place in 2015.

After stints at Ineos Grenadiers and Movistar that saw him relegated to a helper role or torpedoed by team politics, Landa finally worked his way back to the grand tour podium in May with third place at the Giro.

At 33, Landa will be the first to admit that he probably won’t be racing to win in July.

Vingegaard and Pogacar will be the five-star favorites for what should be a dazzling tug-of-war for the yellow. Behind those two are nearly a dozen would-be contenders for a final podium spot.

Egan Bernal could be back in time to ride the Tour, but there will also be Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost), Enric Mas (Movistar), Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco), Romain Bardet (DSM) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ). ).

Landa will follow a traditional preparation for the Tour, with a season debut at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in February, Tirreno-Adriatico in March and the Itzulia Basque Country and Ardennes classics in April.

Altitude camps and a likely start at the Critérium du Dauphiné will lead to the Tour. All roads lead home in 2023.

Last summer, Vingegaard used “home” advantage with a start in Copenhagen in July to fend off Pogačar and win Denmark’s first yellow jersey in 25 years.

Landa is expecting similar magic, with three stages scheduled to open in the Basque Country in what is a very challenging first week on the 2023 Tour.

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