Tour de France debut for Mikel Nieve off to a solid start
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Monday, July 08, 2013

Tour de France debut for Mikel Nieve off to a solid start

by Kyle Moore at 11:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Basque rider looking to continue impressive run of Grand Tour finishes

Mikel NieveThe 100th edition of the Tour de France was the debut race for Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and if the 29-year-old plans to add to his quietly impressive résumé in three-week tours, he will need a great overall result in Paris in two weeks time. Fortunately for the Basque rider, he has weathered the first week of his first Tour de France very well, and sits just outside the top ten on rest day number one.

Nieve is currently 11th in the general classification, 2’55” behind overall leader Chris Froome (Sky Procycling). The gap puts him within a minute of the top seven, and along with team-mate Igor Anton, Nieve has shown that he is willing to attack in the mountains to gain time.

In the first two mountain stages of the Tour over the weekend, Nieve was impressive, and owes much of his time deficit to last week’s team time trial, in which Euskaltel-Euskadi finished second last. Finally in his territory, Nieve rode smartly on Ax 3 Domaines on Saturday, working with the Belkin duo of Laurens Ten Dam and Bauke Mollema to come back strong after Froome’s Sky team destroyed the field. Nieve was sixth on stage eight, 1’34” behind Froome. He followed that up with a vigilant ride on stage nine to Bagnères de Bigorre, finishing in the group of favourites, 20 seconds behind stage winner Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp).

Nieve said that it exceeded his expectations to have survived the first week of the Tour in such good shape.

“I’m very happy with my performance in this Tour,” he admitted. “We were able to overcome the first week without incident, and the mountain stages have been even better than I expected. To be among the best is very satisfying.”

Nieve is reported to have suffered from allergies in the early part of the season, even though in the past he has performed well at the Giro d’Italia. The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider has completed two Tours of Spain in his career, along with two Giros. He has finished 11th and 10th in the Vuelta, and he has been 10th twice in the Giro, where he also has one stage win.

Nieve has handled the increased pressure of his first Tour well, passing an especially tough test on stage nine, which was high paced and stressful from start to finish.

“It was a tough stage. The attacks started early and they never stopped,” Nieve explained. “But we got out of it looking very well. We have also been on the offensive, with no results, but we have been trying. We have to take it calmly day by day. The Tour is very long and so far we’re doing well.”

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