Mikel Landa's Vuelta a España climbing bike: Merida Scultura Team

Bahrain Victorious rider put up a spirited display in the final week atop Merida’s climbing bike

Clock16:15, Tuesday 19th September 2023
Mikel Landa's Merida Scultura Team

© GCN

Mikel Landa's Merida Scultura Team

The 2023 Vuelta a España will go down in history for multiple reasons, all of them related to Jumbo-Visma’s dominance. Through Sepp Kuss’ first Grand Tour victory, the Dutch outfit became the first team to ever win all three Grand Tours in a single season, Primož Roglič having won the Giro d’Italia earlier in the year before Jonas Vingegaard defended his Tour de France title in July. Those two riders fittingly completed the Vuelta podium in Madrid, accomplishing another impressive feat as the team completed the first podium clean sweep at a Grand Tour since 1966.

In the face of such dominance, it was a tough race for the other GC stars. While some crumbled in the face of the Jumbo-Visma onslaught, others put up a spirited fight, including home star Mikel Landa of Bahrain Victorious who shot up the overall standings from 11th after the stage 10 individual time trial to fifth in Madrid, his best ever finish at the race.

Most of the time taken was on the Spaniard's favoured terrain, the mountains, were he teamed up with his Merida Scultura Team climbing bike to great effect.

Lightweight climbing bike

We caught a glimpse of the bike ahead of stage 3, the first mountain stage of the race which wound its way along a flat route before concluding with a summit finish in Arinsal, one of only two climbs on the day.

Despite being flat for the majority of the kilometres, the Scultura was still the best choice for the stage, chosen ahead of the team’s Reacto aero bike.

The bike was released in 2021 with, like most modern climbing bikes, a dose of aerodynamics added to its traditional lightweight formula. This included dropped seatstays, reducing the frontal area, and introducing fully integrated cabling in a new one-piece cockpit.

Despite these changes, the bike still retained its light weight, actually shedding 38g from the previous model in a size medium.

Comfort is also a key part of the equation, with Merida introducing a more aggressively sloping top tube and integrated seat clamp, allowing it to shorten the seat tube. This exposes more of the seat post, allowing for more flex. More flex results in improved comfort.

Shimano and Vision components

For his build, Landa had Shimano’s newest Dura-Ace groupset, pairing a 54/40t chainset with a 11-34t cassette.

It’s a common set-up that we encountered a lot throughout the race, providing ample gearing for both the flat and mountains. The chainset could be changed out for something more compact for tougher mountain days to provide easier gearing.

Wheels are a big consideration for a stage like this which blends climbing with long stretches of flat road, and Landa opted for the Vision METRON 45 SL wheels.

These are fairly shallow, providing a nice balance between light weight for the climbs and some aerodynamic qualities for the flat, and were paired with Continental Grand Prix 5000 TT tyres in 28mm.

Upon its release, the Team SL 1P cockpit was one of the bike’s defining features, offering “outstanding aerodynamics”. Landa went a step further in pursuit of aero gains, choosing a noticeably slammed set-up.

Completing the build, the bike had a Prologo Scratch M5 saddle, FSA seatpost, plus Elite bottle cages.

Bike Specification
Bike
  • year

    2021

  • model

    Scultura

  • Manufacturer

    Merida

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