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"The plan had always been to send me up the road with the intention that I would work for Froomey if and when the breakaway came back," Nieve says

Photo: Sirotti






15.06.2014 @ 20:31 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Going into the final stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné, Team Sky planned to send Mikel Nieve up the road to make him available for Chris Froome later in the stage. With the team captain suffering from his recent crash, however, Nieve was given the chance to ride for himself and he proved his class by taking another big win in the a WorldTour race.


Mikel Nieve produced a storming ride to win the final stage of the Criterium du Dauphine and Chris Froome topped the points classification, despite finishing the race in 12th place overall.


Nieve was one of three Team Sky riders who formed part of an early 23-man breakaway, but when David Lopez and Richie Porte dropped back to support Froome midway through the stage, the Basque rider was given the freedom to press on and made his winning move with 3.3km to go on the Montée de Courchevel Le Praz.


The 30-year-old dug deep as he forged towards the summit of the category-one climb, and wrapped his first Team Sky success with a three-second cushion over Roman Bardet (Orica-GreenEdge).


Back down the road, the general classification was being turned on its head as Andrew Talansky worked his way to a surprise overall victory. The Garmin-Sharp rider had joined Nieve among the early escapees, and with Tinkoff-Saxo unable to mount a full-blooded chase, the American rider’s fourth-placed finish proved enough to take the yellow jersey.


Alberto Contador had produced a brave solo pursuit after distancing Froome on the penultimate ascent, but he crossed the line one minute and six seconds behind Talansky which meant that Talansky sealed the biggest win of his career by a 27-second margin.


Froome, meanwhile, was still feeling the effects of a nasty crash on stage five, and despite working hard to limit his losses, he rolled home over four minutes adrift.


Froome’s disappointment at slipping down the standings was tempered by the team’s third stage victory, however, and the 29-year-old’s two wins earlier in the week ensured he took the green jersey at the end of a solid week in the saddle.


Nieve praised the team's efforts and explained the decision to put him in the breakaway.


He said: “This was a very hard stage. It started very fast. We were hoping to help Chris Froome but he hadn't fully recovered from his crash. He suffered so I took my opportunity to win a stage and that makes me happy.


"The plan had always been to send me up the road with the intention that I would work for Froomey if and when the breakaway came back.


"When David and Richie dropped back to support him, I was told to hold my position, and then I got the go-ahead to attack on the last climb of the day when we knew that Chris wasn’t feeling great.


"I got my chance and I'm happy I took it. haven't won much in my career but I’ve been proud to win in some of the sport’s biggest races.


"This one is really important to me, and it’s right up there with my Vuelta and Giro stage successes. Obviously, I’d like to win one in the Tour de France as well, but we’ll have to see with that one, working for Froomey will be my main objective again there.


"He was disappointed today but he’s really happy with how the team has performed this week.


"He’s recovering from his crash and he’s relaxed because he knows in a few days he’ll be right back to his best. A fall like that really takes it out of you but he’ll be good to go at the Tour, we all will."



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