Mikel Nieve: All for Igor Anton at the Vuelta
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mikel Nieve: All for Igor Anton at the Vuelta

by Kyle Moore at 2:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Emerging Spaniard working for Euskaltel leader

Mikel NieveMikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi) has pledged his full support to team leader Igor Anton at the Vuelta a España, a big commitment for the Spaniard, whose talents may soon warrant Grand Tour leadership for himself in the Basque team. Both Spaniards won stages at this year’s Giro d’Italia, and Nieve finished higher than his compatriot in the general classification.

Nieve has just two career wins, albeit big ones, which have increased the amount of attention paid to the 27-year-old. In 2010, Nieve was victorious in stage 16 of the Vuelta, ahead of Frank Schleck and a group of overall contenders. He would eventually finish eleventh overall. He continued his good form at the end of last season, picking up eighth place in the Giro di Lombardia.

This season, Nieve was present on all of the mountainous stages of the Giro d’Italia. He broke away on arguably the most difficult stage of the race (stage fifteen had 230 kilometers and five categorized climbs), rode away from noted Italian climber Stefano Garzelli, and won with a daring solo move. He finished the Giro eleventh overall.

Nieve called his Giro win “one of the hardest moments and happiest times” of his career. “I would love to repeat in the Vuelta what I experienced in the Giro,” he told Marca today. “It was a great satisfaction.”

After the difficult Italian Grand Tour, Nieve got a much-deserved extended break. He now focuses on his home tour, and 2011 marks the first time he has attempted two Grand Tours in one season. “I have had time to rest after a Giro that was very difficult,” Nieve explained. “I have come to the Vuelta with the intention of providing as much help as possible [in order] to help Anton win the Vuelta.”

“Igor is a favourite, but he is not the only one. There are four or five guys who will give us a lot of trouble. In 2010, [Anton] proved he can win, but you have to take it slowly.” Nieve named Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and Denis Menchov (Geox-TMC) as Anton’s primary threats.

Anton also won a prestigious stage of the Giro d’Italia this year, when he was first to the top of the Monte Zoncolan on stage fourteen. Last year, the 28-year-old had won stage eleven of the Vuelta and was in the leader’s jersey before crashing out dramatically on stage fourteen.

Bigger mountain climbs come very quickly in this year’s Vuelta, and Nieve knows that it will take a united team to support their leader. “We will be there on the road for him whenever we can,” he vowed.

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