Mikel Nieve: “We will continue fighting”
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Friday, September 02, 2011

Mikel Nieve: “We will continue fighting”

by Ben Atkins at 5:36 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Euskaltel-Euskadi climber takes back time in stage thirteen Vuelta breakaway

mikel nieveMikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi) started the Vuelta a España with the role of working for team captain Igor Antón. With Antón’s failure on the very first mountain stage though, to the relatively benign mountaintop finish of Sierra Nevada, the climber from Leitza has found himself thrust into the role of leadership.

Aside from the Salamanca time trial on stage ten, where he lost exactly six minutes, Nieve has finished well on most stages. Because of that time trial performance though, he began today’s thirteenth stage between Sarria and Ponferrada in 24th place, 4’46” behind Wiggins.

After being part of the twenty-man break that managed to stay away to the finish, he has risen to twentieth, with a reduced deficit of 3’13”.

"It was a day in which we tried to gain time on the general classification and climb some positions in the standings," said Nieve after the stage. “It was a tough stage, with a lot of accumulated climbing, and we were very offensive. We put in everything we could to break the race and we escaped.”

Euskaltel-Euskadi was one of two teams that had three riders in the group, with Nieve having Amets Txurruka and Gorka Verdugo for company. This meant that the Basque team was able to keep the pace high in the closing kilometres, as the peloton was speeding up in pursuit, without Nieve himself having to do too much work.

“We caused the break,” he explained. “I jumped from behind and with the help of Igor [Antón] I came forward, Amets and Gorka got up to us at the top... The team did a great job and I think that we put on a nice show. In a race like the Vuelta it is difficult to surprise, but we have tried, and we did some good work there.”

Nieve finished the stage in ninth behind winner Michael Albasini (HTC-Highroad), with the flat sprint finish not suiting his characteristics. He has not lost hope of repeating his stage victory of last year, where he escaped alone to win on the Alto de Cotobello – or that of his Giro d’Italia stage to Gardeccia/Val di Fassa – but is under no illusions as to how tough it will be.

“Last year I won a stage at Cotobello,” he said. “Repeating that will be very difficult, but we put in all the energy in the world to do our best.

"There are still a lot of stages to go; we will continue fighting.”

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