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"I am happy with my performance on the climb. It was important for me to finish third on this mythical summit. I am contesting my first Tour and to be at this level, third on the Mont Ventoux, makes me happy," Nieve says

Photo: Sirotti

EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI

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MIKEL NIEVE

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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14.07.2013 @ 20:40 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel) continued his amazing debut at the Tour de France in today's stage to the top of the mythical Mont Ventoux. Having attacked early on the final climb, the tiny Basque showed resilience by going on to finish 3rd on the stage.

 

Euskaltel had not had its best season so far and this week news broke that the team is in desperate need of a new sponsor as its existence is otherwise threatened. Today the Basque squad finally got something to celebrate when Mikel Nieve proved his climbing prowess by finishing third on the top of the mythical Mont Ventoux.

 

Having won big mountain stage and finished in the top 10 on GC at both the Giro and the Vuelta, Nieve debuts at the Tour this year, and he has already made the world aware of his talents. An aggressive showing in the Pyrenees were topped by a 6th place in the stage to Ax-3-Domaines but the Euskaltel rider lost out on his GC ambitions in the crosswinds on Friday.

 

Targeting a big stage win, Nieve attacked early on the final climb and overtook both Jan Bakelants and Sylvain Chavanel who were ahead at the time. He was later caught by Nairo Quintana but managed to stay in the wheel of the Colombian for a long time.

 

He finally had to surrender and was also overtaken by Chris Froome when the race leader put down the hammer. However, he stayed with Alberto Contador when the Spaniard caught him and the duo were together for most of the final part of the climb.

 

Inside the final kilometer, Joaquin Rodriguez made one of his trademark late accelerations from behind but Nieve still had enough power left to get into the wheel of his compatriot. With a late burst of speed, he got around the Katusha leader to finally finish 3rd on the stage.

 

 "I am happy with my performance on the climb," he said. "It was important for me to finish third on this mythical summit. I am contesting my first Tour and to be at this level, third on the Mont Ventoux, makes me happy."

 

"I cannot wait for the last moment to attack the riders in this race. I played my cards and I wanted to get a gap to have more options later. When Quintana caught me I was just focussed on staying in his wheel, but I saw that he was stronger than me and it was impossible. I tried to set a constant pace. I wanted to finish third and I achieved that goal."

 

Despite his strong showing, Nieve was under no illusions when it comes to his ability to match Froome in the mountains.

 

"He is at a higher level," he said. "He has had a very good year and now has been at a superior level. It was impossible to keep his wheel. On such a long climb, it is important to go at a regular speed."

 

Only 6 stages remain but most of those are held in the Alps, thus offering Nieve plenty of opportunities to take that elusive stage win. His performance today also moves him into third in the KOM classification and as Froome will be in yellow and Quintana in white, Nieve will wear the polka-dot jersey in the 16th stage.

 

"It has been a very demanding day," he said. "Fortunately we have day off tomorrow and we will need that to regain strength. A very tough last week remains and so far, we've had good legs. I will keep fighting."

 

Euskaltel missed the breakaway that contested the win yesterday and so they will do their utmost to be present on Tuesday when the 16th stage should be another one for the escapees. Starting at 14.00, you can follow that stage on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

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