Mikel Landa has thrown down the Grand Tour gauntlet yet again for the upcoming season, with his eyes set on a strong performance overall in the Vuelta a España.
Fifth in the Vuelta in 2023 and on the podium of the Giro d’Italia in 2022, after signing for Soudal-QuickStep for 2024, the 34-year-old Basque climber will be playing a support role in the Tour de France for teammate Remco Evenepoel.
But Landa has already been confirmed as GC leader for Soudal-QuickStep in the 2024 Vuelta, and the Basque said that he is convinced he will have his chance.
“I keep dreaming of winning a Grand Tour. It is increasingly difficult for me, because the years go by and new rivals emerge,” Landa recently told Belgian news agency Sporza.
“But in recent years I have come close to the final podium. So why should a final victory no longer be possible?”
Landa explained that his role in the Tour would be completely different, in that he would be supporting Evenepoel on the mountain stages and “that is my job as a climber.” However, when he was initially offered the position and a chance to switch teams from Bahrain Victorious, he did not jump at the chance.
“I wasn’t convinced after the first phone call,” Landa admits. “After the second phone call, I was.
“Remco said he admired me and greatly valued my experience. I was offered a role that motivated me to come to this team.”
Set to race with Evenepoel at the Volta ao Algarve and Itzulia-Basque Country, “The more time we spend together on the bike, the better. I have to be able to sense what Remco needs,” Landa recently told Dernière Heure.
“He’s a champion, he’s shown that. I’m struck by his ambition and determination. He knows exactly what he wants and is willing to make the sacrifices necessary to get that. I’m just getting to know my teammates but I’ve already seen how much expectation there is around Remco. And he puts himself under a lot of pressure, too.”
As for whether Evenepoel can win the Tour, Landa – twice fourth overall in the race, as well as being part of Chris Froome’s support team when the Briton triumphed in 2016 and the two were racing for Sky – told Sporza. “I don’t think that is impossible. But we are not going to put pressure on him yet.
“Remco is riding the Tour for the first time. There are rivals (Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard) who have both won the Tour twice. We will try to stay as close to them as possible and see where that can get us.
“We’re maybe not as strong as Visma-Lease a Bike or UAE Team Emirates. But Soudal-Quick Step has already won a Grand Tour at the  Vuelta, and the team has been further strengthened.”