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"I have started to think a little about it now. I think the break after the Giro, two months, was very big. Then I was not well when I started. You start to focus on that. You get stressed about it and that did me no goo...

Photo: Sirotti

MIKEL LANDA

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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01.09.2015 @ 14:17 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Mikel Landa expects to be a protagonist in the remainder of the Vuelta a Espana after having dropped out of GC contention in the last two days. Now the climber will focus on supporting Fabio Aru and hopes to go for a stage win.

 

Landa lost more than 14 minutes on Sunday in Cumbres del Sol and more than ten yesterday in Castellón and is now 37th at 26:26. His chances to repeat the podium of the Giro d'Italia or do a good overall in Madrid are gone but his ambitions are still. "A big part of the Vuelta remains, including the hardest stages. I would like the opportunity to fight for a stage and support Fabio (Aru). If I can be in front  in the mountain stages, it would save the Vuelta and meet my expectations," he told Biciciclismo.

 

Landa is confident in Aru. "He is a candidate to win the Vuelta and must be supported. So far, these finales did not favor him. He looks good with a good pedaling and has the freshness of not having done the Tour. I think we can fight for victory," he said.

 

Astana still hope to win the Vuelta with Aru despite losing Paolo Tiralongo and Vincenzo Nibali. "Of course it was a seback to lose those two riders so early. Nibali is a leader and Tiralongo is our road captain. It was a shame," he said.

 

Landa are now facing some very hard stages, especially stage 11 and stage 16. "Cycling has always been like this, with stages that make a difference to history and are remembered. But who knows, it all depends on the pace on the climbs," he said.

 

Landa admits that his feelings have not been the best in the last two stages. "Yesterday I suffered. On Sunday, I tried to save some energy once I realized I could not keep up with the best. Of course I would have liked to be there at least until Andorra but my doubts have been confirmed. I could not reach my Giro level and I'm actually very far from that," he said.

 

There is an explanation of this difference in form. "I have started to think a little about it now. I think the break after the Giro, two months, was very big. Then I was not well when I started. You start to focus on that. You get stressed about it and that did me no good," he lamented. He returned to competition in the Clasica San Sebastian and did the Vuelta a Burgos.

 

As for the rivals, he sees "a very strong Dumoulin". "Nobody expected his level in those explosive finales. And like Aru, he has the freshness as he withdrew early from the Tour," he said. "Then there are Froome and Quintana who ended the Tour well; Valverde was hurt in a crash and now we must wait to see how he recovers. He is always there and will not fail, but it is another step to win. And Rodriguez did no go for GC in the Tour. There are many candidates," he explained.

 

After the Vuelta, he will make a decision about the rest of the season. "I expected to do the Italian classics, from Piedmont to Lombardy. It depends on how I will finish the Vuelta. The team have allowed me to make my own decision," he said.

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