After two Grand Tours with stage wins, Euskaltel-Euskadi hopes for third one in Vuelta remainder
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

After two Grand Tours with stage wins, Euskaltel-Euskadi hopes for third one in Vuelta remainder

by Bjorn Haake at 2:21 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Tough mountain stages could favor climbers like Antón and Nieve

mikel nieveEuskaltel-Euskadi has had one of its best seasons in the peloton this year, with stage wins in the Giro d'Italia (by Mikel Nieve and Igor Antón) and the Tour de France (Samuel Sánchez). With some heavy climbing coming up, the orange squad hopes to make it a solid three in the remaining week and a half of the Vuelta.

Antón already went quite close when he finished sixth in stage eight of the Vuelta, to San Lorenzo de El Escorial. His race hasn't gont as planned but he dreams of taking a win in the coming days. "The mountain stages will be very tough; Manzaneda, Farrapona and the Angliru are very, very demanding climbs," he said, following a light workout on the rest day.

He pointed out that stage hopefuls as well as overall contenders are looking to battle. "There will be a lot of moves, as there is still a lot of racing left," he predicted. "We will see if we can be in the middle of the fight." Of course, Antón is no stranger to difficult climbs, having won on the infamous Monte Zoncolan during the Giro. "I have the desire and I hope that I can take a win - we will fight for it," the Spaniard vows.

Should a win happen in Spain, it would be icing on the cake for the Basque team. "We are completing a great season,with victories in the Giro and the Tour. Let's see if we can round it off with a triumph at the Vuelta," he said, challenging his team to be ambitious.

Initially, the goal for the squad was to be higher up in the overall, but the best-placed rider is Nieve (25th at 5'06 behind Chris Froome). Antón is down to 32nd, 8'47 behind. "These days, it didn't go as well as we had hoped, you have to be realistic," said Nieve. Like Antón, he is now just looking forward. "There are still stages ahead of us to do important things."

Going uphill strongly  is clearly the desire of the man whose name means snow in English. "We are getting to the mountains, which is the terrain that suits us better - we will fight a war," Nieve promised, thinking ahead. He, too, hopes to go full circle with the team. "We have to animate the race and battle to win any stage to close out a very good year." In order to be in top shape tomorrow, the team took an easy two-hour spin at 11am, then rested most of the day. This was interrupted only by massages and meals, which further preparted them for what lies ahead.

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