Like Samuel Sánchez, Igor Antón, Mikel Nieve, Juan José Lobato and the Izagirre brothers, Mikel Landa won't have any trouble finding a new team in the likely scenario that Euskaltel Euskadi cease to exist at the end of the year.
The young climber might not have produced the results many were expecting of him after winning at Lagunas de Neila in the Vuelta a Burgos two years ago, but the quality and the talent the 23-year-old possesses makes him a catch for any team at the highest level. Allegedly, Orica-GreenEdge and Movistar are both keen on hiring the diminutive escalador, but for now Landa isn't too preoccupied about finding a team for 2014.
"At the moment it's not looking good. We're looking for a sponsor, and all we can do is wait and hope something comes up", he tells BiciCiclismo. "If nothing happens, the team can't keep going.
"I've been told I'm free to look for a new team. But up until Burgos I'll stay calm and focus on my riding. After that, depending on if there are any news regarding the team, I'll decided what to do. I'm young and I've got strengths, so I think I'll be able to find something".
Landa made his return to competition at last week's Clásica Ordizia and then the Clásica de San Sebastián after almost two months off the bike. The youngster from Murgia looked sharper than he's done in a long time, climbing with the best on the Jaizkíbel and going on to finish sixth on the Boulevard in downtown Donostia.
Up next is the Vuelta a Burgos next week and, then, the season's major goal: the Vuelta a España.
"The Clásica was a very positive experience for me", he says. "I've trained well the last few months, but it's been a while since I last competed. Honestly, I wasn't expecting to find myself that far ahead, but the riders who'd done the Tour looked tired at the end there. Next week in Burgos I hope to be up there and fight for a stage win. The main goal, though, is the Vuelta, and that's what I'm working towards - step by step".
As touched upon briefly above, Landa has at times flattered to deceive after his breakout win in the 2011 edition of the Vuelta a Burgos. While he admits he hasn't perhaps lived up to expectations, he's adamant he'll one day get back to the top.
"Ultimately, expectations were raised after that win. I haven't managed to live up to them. But back then I already knew it was just something that happened one day. I know I've got that quality in me, but races are races and some times, for different reasons, you're not able to show what you've got".
After the Vuelta, Landa will take part in a bunch of one-day races. Milano-Torino, Giro del Piemonte and the Il Lombardia are all on his schedule, while he's "very likely" to round out his season at the Tour of Beijing.
Photo: Iñaki Azanza