Mikel Landa: “Failures are not seen as much when you are gregarious, but I am still hungry” | Cycling | Sports


How they sang Clash, should I stay or should I go, The cyclists, like everyone else, are divided into two groups, those who in the middle of a stage have to make a decision, attack or keep going, and those who wait to be told what to do, go down. food for your companions, go ahead a few kilometers, those who want to risk themselves in unknown territories, those who dream of security and calm. Nothing is predetermined, and least of all Mikel Landa, from Mungia from Alava, who at the age of 34 has abandoned the world of creative and heretical doubt, to stay in the security of routine and next week, in Itzulia, the race of his land that loves him so much and excites him the most, he will forget to look at the road clearing the horizon like a sailboat challenging the wind, as he did in the recent Volta, the first in pursuit of Pogacar, and he will run looking back, pending the needs of his new boss, Remco Evenepoel, applying his knowledge, his knowing how to see who moves, where they move, why they move, and how far the one who moves can go, as he did in the Algarve, where he taught the Belgian phenomenon to measure time in relation to space. The new incarnation of landism, the movement that was born with the war cry #FreeLanda in his time as a servant of Chris Froome and the denunciation of the Movistar tripartite in the Tour of 19. “That was long ago behind us,” he says.

Ask. How did you spend it in the Algarve acting as a Sherpa for Remco Evenepoel?

Answer. I feel, above all, comfortable, strong to do that work, and when it’s my turn I enjoy it. Furthermore, if you then work for Remco, which responds, which is always winning or competing, then even better.

Q. FreeLanda He is now Evenepoel’s servant. By force or by choice?

R. Well, the calendar is very extensive, isn’t it? And this team, Soudal, didn’t have many more leaders either. I saw that apart from helping Remco, I knew that he was going to get my chance from time to time, and for me that is enough. And it has already been seen in the Volta, where I was more calm as leader.

Q. Better than at Sky with Froome?

R. Remco is a broker that I like, that attracts me. I have identified with him a little, and I am especially motivated to help him. And he also encourages me about the possibility of creating a new project. Here, at the Soudal-Quick Step, they want to take advantage of the fact that they have Remco to compete in the Tour de France or some major one. Being in that startup company is something special.

Q. Was he also looking for the routine life of a gregarious person, to forget about having to make decisions and be responsible for them?

R. I’ve searched a little, too, for more, let’s say, I don’t know, more peace of mind. Or I don’t know what to say, what to call it, because you still have pressure. Being Remco’s last man also has its pressure. You have to be there, on the last climb, in the best conditions, to leave it as good as possible. You are just as important as before. In the end, your work is also important, although, of course, it is true that you don’t take the beatings they give you when you don’t win.

Those flaws don’t show up as much when you’re gregarious, so yeah, maybe it can be a little more relaxed. But hey, I still have the same hunger, the same pressure, the same desire to do things well.

Q. And you will say goodbye to the stress of always being well placed in the first stages of the Tour, to the obligation to be aware of the general classification every day…

R. In the Tour this time I will not have to wait for the transition days without being able to relax until I cross the finish line, but I will have to in the Vuelta, which may be a little easier, but there is always tension. On the Tour I will enjoy it in a different way.

Mikel Landa takes a selfie with Pogacar and Bernal on the Volta podium.Quique Garcia (EFE)

Q. In the Volta he has been the leader, the best of the others behind Pogacar, but next week he will compete in his first Itzulia, the race of his homeland, where the fans acclaim him, without being able to respond to their expectations, at the service of another…

R. And I really want to live it. Apart from the fact that this year, with that route, it would seem difficult for me to fight for the podium, with the bonuses and the time trial, I really want to help Remco in my land, teach him, guide him on my roads. To him and the entire team. It’s something I especially want. Besides, he can win the race, so I really want to help him.

Q. Will he not miss the adrenaline that fueled his soul as a climber on the run, the ecstasy that was his being?

R. Hahahaha… That protagonism, yes… But, well, the race has many lives, and there will be moments in which I may have to move, run the attack a little so that Remco can then take advantage of it, or even a partial victory could be possible. I think there will be times for everything.

Q. What is Remco like? Arrogant? Nice?

R. He is demanding, but first with himself. I believe that he has so much talent that he opts for everything, and that ambition sometimes makes him have a character that can seem hard or cold. But then he is a very normal person. The ability to compete in races has come to him so quickly that sometimes you see him out of place. He is so young that he lacks maturity, tranquility at certain times.

Q. Perhaps that was seen well in Paris-Nice, in the stage in which Jorgenson and Hindley left. He must have missed you at that moment.

R. I think a little yes, yes. I also suffered a lot watching the race.

Q. You also revealed yourself to be very young, winning at the age of 21 in the Lagunas de Neila, in the Vuelta a Burgos, just nine years before Evenepoel stood out in the same field at 20…

R. Yes, yes, and he also remembers a lot about that stage, and in Picón Blanco, and he usually reminds me of it.

Q. How was the signing?

R. Practically the same day I spoke with Patrick (Lefévère, head of Soudal) and practically the same day I spoke with Patrick, first, and with him. Patrick told me that the project revolved around Remco, and Remco later confirmed Patrick’s interest, and that, in reality, the interest was more his than Patrick’s. That’s where our relationship began. And I didn’t have many doubts.

Q. What can you offer them?

R. I think he has noticed a little bit about my regularity, about my experience. I have been in many majors, always there, fighting among the best five. Maybe I haven’t won, but there are many greats already behind me, and many experiences. I think they have seen first my availability to help them and then my experience, so necessary to have peace of mind. It has fit them and for now we are happy.

Q. At 34, has he already fulfilled his personal ambitions or will he be an angry gregarious like Vlasov can be with Roglic, who never knows if he will give 100% for the boss?

R. No no. With me there can be no doubt, although the truth is that I am still pursuing some partial victory. That motivates me now much more than going crazy fighting for the generals.

Q. Two years ago he came third in the Giro and it seemed like he was there, just like that…

R. Yes, good. I don’t have the top speed that is needed right now to compete in the stage. If you focus on the general classification it is difficult to fight a stage.

Q. For landism, for your myth, what does this mean? Another layer of the same person? Another person?

R. I think it’s another stage, right? Let’s enjoy it anyway. There will be times when I have to do a lot of damage to the platoon, to other leaders, and we will enjoy it. We will have landismo in small doses as we have had in the Volta and then, in a big way, in the Vuelta, where everything will be at a trick.

Q. Duller landism, right?, without so much spark. Without the soap operas shining shoes in the tripartite with Valverde and Nairo from Movistar or without the #FreeLanda from Froome’s Sky…

R. Hahaha. Yes, yes, that is long gone.

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