Mikel Landa has been so strong over the last two weeks that there is no doubt he could be a team leader at the Tour de France.
Despite riding in support of Chris Froome, Landa has been impressive in mountain stages and was stronger than Froome last week in the Pyrenees when the Team Sky leader struggled in the ascent to Peyragudes.
When Froome was dropped a few hundred meters from the finish line, Landa decided to chase down rivals, a move that raised questions about the Spaniard’s loyalty.
He silenced the critics during Sunday’s Stage 15 on the road to Le Puy-en-Velay.
Froome was dropped because of a mechanical problem on his bike ahead of the last big climb of the day. Landa stayed at the front when the incident happened, but he waited for his leader when it became obvious the three-time champion was able to come back.
“The team told me to drop back. It was Sergio [Henao] and [Mikel] Nieve with him on the final climb, and when they weren’t able to stay with him anymore, I had to stop,” Landa said. “I joined him, and we tried to save the day.”
“Everyone has their way of seeing things,” he said. “You can’t please everyone.”
“I think he’s in really good shape. To salvage the situation he faced today, that shows he’s pretty good.”
“I don’t really know [how good I’ll be in the third week]. I’ll tell you Tuesday,” he said. “For now I’m feeling really good, and I hope it’s the same on Tuesday and beyond, too.”