With his track record including a fourth career best career finish in the Tour de France 2017 with Sky and sixth in last year’s race in the colors of Movistar, the 30-year-old Basque rider agreed he was not the one of the favorites for the title, but said this is normal given the quality of the Tour’s terrain. He also stressed that this status could work in his favor.
“It should make things a little more comfortable for us, because we don’t have the responsibility to control our rivals, we won’t have to work and we want to take advantage of it,” he said.
“It’s a very mountainous course from day one with a lot of terrain which should be fine for me. Maybe we can take advantage of it. I am certainly motivated by this prospect. ”
Landa downplayed the tour as an opportunity for him now or never after so many years as a first lieutenant.
“It’s a great opportunity, not now or never, but a great opportunity that I must seize,” he said. “I’ve been there for a few years now and the younger runners are doing really well. I must therefore make the most of this chance. ”
The Bahraini frontman has chosen another former Sky driver and newcomer to the squad, Dutchman Wout Poels, as a teammate who will be essential to his GC hopes.
“Wout will be my best teammate in the last moments [of climbs]. We’ve already seen how he can divide a group of favorites and I think he’s going to be very useful, ”he said.
Sitting next to his leader, Bahrain McLaren team manager Rod Ellingworth – another relatively new addition to a team that has been revamped for 2020 – said he expected the Tour to be particularly intense from the start.
“I think there are two reasons for this. First, the few days of opening are a real challenge. I think it’s a pretty exceptional start compared to other years and will create opportunities for some riders, ”said Ellingworth.
“Secondly, due to the situation we all find ourselves in in the world of sport, some teams are potentially facing financial problems and many riders are still out of contract and want to prove themselves. It is the showcase for them. this.
“I can definitely see that each day is pretty intense. The Tour won’t be won the first week, but I’m sure some will find the Tour slipped out of their hands for some reason at the end. ”
Ellingworth also referred to the absence of sprinter Mark Cavendish from the Bahrain McLaren’s Tour team. The British sprinter has won 30 Tour stages over the years and was hopeful that a transfer to the squad would revitalize his career. A lack of racing due to the COVID-19 hiatus, however, meant he was missing a chance.
“The situation we had without a race worked against him. When you’ve spent two years getting on and off the bike and you’ve had a lot of trouble, you need a consistent period of time to get back to a decent level, ”Ellingworth said. “I think we all know with Mark that he’s a cyclist and he’s not particularly into training, he loves racing and that has been a problem for him given the situation we’re in. all.
“I think he was very frank in saying that he was not ready for this year’s Tour, and we will continue to work. He’s at home now doing just that and he looks forward to more races. “