Mikel Landa signs up for Soudal Quick-Step's Tour de France ambitions

Basque climber bolsters Belgian team's squad to support Remco Evenepoel in 2024

Clock10:50, Thursday 17th August 2023
Mikel Landa’s second Grand Tour podium came at last year’s Giro d’Italia

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Mikel Landa’s second Grand Tour podium came at last year’s Giro d’Italia

In a move that may have been unimaginable just a few years ago, Mikel Landa has signed on the dotted line to move from Bahrain-Victorious to Patrick Lefevere’s Soudal Quick-Step team in 2024.

The 33-year-old has agreed a deal that will see him ride for the Belgian squad on an initial two-year contract.

"We have known Mikel for a long time," commented Soudal Quick-Step’s CEO, Lefevere. “He has been a constant presence at the front on the hard climbs of the Grand Tours since turning pro many years ago and we believe he is the right man to strengthen our squad as we gradually shift our attention to the general classification."

As hinted by Lefevere, this is not the Quick-Step of old, once the most feared and dominant Classics squad in the WorldTour. The Belgian team have reorientated in recent years to support their growing general classification ambitions at the Grand Tours, and it's in support of the hopes of Remco Evenepoel that Landa will find his place.

Rising to prominence in an all-conquering 2020 season that was only marred by a disastrous crash at Il Lombardia, Evenepoel has since established himself as one of the best riders in the world and, despite constantly having to suffer under the weight of his own lofty expectations, the Belgian silenced many doubters in winning the Vuelta a España last year. Now 23 years of age, the pocket rocket has the Tour de France in his sights for 2024.

“I am happy and motivated by this new challenge and by supporting Remco in his goals,” insisted Landa. “I come here with a lot of experience, especially in the Grand Tours, where I’ve been fighting for the podium or have helped others win several times in the past.”

Indeed, Landa is no ordinary climbing domestique, having proven himself as a winner in his own right over the past decade. Once a promising youngster on the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, Landa became a valuable member of Grand Tour-winning squads with Astana and Team Sky, before leaving to follow his own ambitions at Movistar and, more recently, Bahrain-Victorious.

There have been moments of genius throughout Landa’s career, notably his three stage victories at the Giro d’Italia and a memorable solo stage win at the 2015 Vuelta a España. That is not to mention his own GC ventures, which have seen him twice finish fourth at the Tour de France and stand on the third step of the podium at the Giro d’Italia in 2015 and 2022. The last of these came as a result of three weeks of thrilling racing between Landa, Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost) and eventual pink jersey winner, Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe).

But Landa’s career to date will also be remembered for a promise somewhat unfulfilled. The 33-year-old is the best Basque rider of his generation and a man tipped for greatness for many years, with his aggressive racing and a climbing style that mirrors Marco Pantani.

To look at his palmarès and see only the Vuelta a Burgos and Giro del Trentino as his two major GC victories will prove, to some, a disappointment. Perhaps it is the acknowledgement that a new generation of Grand Tour winners has emerged that has led Landa to sign up for ‘Project Remco’ with Soudal Quick-Step.

“I have always felt comfortable supporting younger riders and I know I will fit in here,” continued Landa. “I want to give my best in the next seasons, I am convinced I can help Remco a lot, and at the same time, I am confident that when given the opportunity, I can go for a good result myself.”

Landa’s most recent race in Bahrain-Victorious colours came at the Clásica de San Sebastián, where he saw his future teammate Evenepoel sail away to victory. Before the pair join forces in 2024, Evenepoel’s big goal is to retain his Vuelta a España crown.

You can tune into live and ad-free coverage of every stage of the Vuelta a España on GCN+ from 26 August to 17 September. Territory restrictions will apply.

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