Landa ready to make up for last year's Giro heartache

Astana rider Mikel Landa Meana of Spain celebrates as he crosses the finish line in the 174 km (108 miles) 16th stage of the 98th Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) cycling race from Pinzolo to Aprica, Italy, May 26, 2015. REUTERS/LaPresse/Fabio Ferrari

LONDON (Reuters) - Spaniard Mikel Landa hopes to erase the bitter memory of last year's Giro d'Italia, when the race begins with a 206km flat stage in Sardinia on Friday.

Landa was given the role of Team Sky leader for the Giro last year in his first season for the British outfit but abandoned the race on stage 10 because of illness.

He will again be expected to challenge for the Maglia Rosa, and he will have plenty of high-quality back-up in co-leader Geraint Thomas as Sky try to win the race for the first time having dominated the Tour de France.

"Having a co-leader is great because we can play our tactics. Geraint is a very good climber but is maybe a rider who moves better in mid-mountain stages and in time trials, whereas maybe I'm better at uphill finishes," he told Team Sky's website.

"If we stay together and make a good plan then hopefully we can work well together."

Landa has worked on his time trialling and believes he is in much better shape than he was this time last year, when his training block was disrupted by illness.

"Last year was very different," he said. "I started (with the team) with an illness so I couldn't do all the base work that I've done this year. I'm more confident."

Landa's main opposition will come from Movistar's Nairo Quintana and home favourite and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) as well as Thomas.

He said he expects the race to come alive in the final week, which features some brutal climbs.

"Like always, the Giro will be decided in the last week," he said. "This year there's a lot of mountains with a lot of summit finishes. It's better for me."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Larry King)

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