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"Clearly, I have come to this team to help the leaders. The team has the two most recent winners of the Tour de France [Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome]. Furthermore, they have [Richie] Porte who is a rider that can achieve everything...

Photo: Sirotti






31.10.2013 @ 18:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Following the demise of the Euskaltel team, Mikel Nieve will put aside his role as a protected rider to work as a domestique at the mighty Sky team. The Basque climber is looking forward to riding in support of his leaders in the grand tour.


Having shown great promise from the moment he turned professional, Mikel Nieve has mostly enjoyed a protected status at the Euskaltel team but his role will change next year. With Euskaltel folding at the end of the year, the Basque climber will join the Sky team where he will move into a support role.


Nieve turned professional in 2009 and showed his talents one year later when he took over captaincy duties in the Vuelta a Espana after Igor Anton had crashed out of the race while wearing the leader's jersey. Two days later he won the queen stage and went on to finish 12th overall.


In 2011 he emerged as the man for the queen stages when he passed Stefano Garzelli near the end of the mammoth queen stage of the brutal edition of the Giro d'Italia to take another beautiful solo win one day after Anton's victory on the Monte Zoncolan. He finished 10th overall and repeated that feat in the Vuelta later in the year.


In 2012, he was the team's captain in the Giro and took his third consecutive 10th place in a grand tour but his attempt to win the queen stage to Stelvio failed when he could only manage 3rd. This year he rode his first Tour de France and put in an aggressive showing with his 3rd place on the Mont Ventoux being his standout performance.


However, the time when Nieve will line up as a leader at a grand tour has come to an end. He has been signed with the sole purpose of providing assistance to his leaders in the mountains and with Richie Porte targeting the Giro, Chris Froome leading the team in the Tour and Sergio Henao likely to spearhead the team in the Vuelta, there will be little room for Nieve's personal ambitions.


"Clearly, I have come to this team to help the leaders," he told Marca. "The team has the two most recent winners of the Tour de France [Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome]. Furthermore, they have [Richie] Porte who is a rider that can achieve everything. I will just try to contribute as much as I can."


Nieve is just proud to be joining the world's best team.


"Certainly, it is a great team," he told Marca. "It has an amazing infrastructure and has everuthing. I can say that I am lucky. I have not signed yet but I have an agreement with them. Currently, we have had no team camp but I am looking forward to starting with them and have started to think about the new season."


Nieve is a pure climber who has mostly excelled in grand tours. He expects to play a role in the three-week races but hasn't had the chance to discuss his race schedule yet.


"I'm already in my late twenties [29 years old] and I have proved that I can do well in the grand tours," he said. "This year I saw my preparation [for the Tour] was very good and that I can perform at a high level. This is my guarantee that I can do well."


Nieve is one of only 9 Euskaltel riders that have found a new team at a time where 5 professional teams are folding. The fate of his current teammates have left him with a bitter taste in his mouth.


 "I feel very strange about it," he said. "It has been a very bad year because of how it ended. It is a shame that a team like Euskaltel disappears.


"It is really a tremendous shame but it is a reflection of the reality of cycling. This year two teams [ProTeams Euskaltel and Vacansoleil] have disappeared. We had a strange situation with Alonso but in the end eveything came too late. Hopefully, my teammates will find new teams."


Nieve's only two wins are his queen stage victories in the Giro and Vuelta.



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