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"Mikel is up there on GC so one of them is to support him as our main GC rider. At the same time we're also leading the team classification and that is another goal for us."

Photo: Unipublic








04.09.2015 @ 00:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Mikel Nieve came home safely on stage 12 to retain eighth place overall at the Vuelta a Espana.


A bunch sprint decided the day in Lleida after a tense finish which saw the breakaway come within a tantalising 500 metres of victory.


Team Sky moved up in the closing stages to ensure a good and safe position in the bunch, with Christian Knees and Geraint Thomas using their experience to help Nieve on the final approach.


Danny Van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) popped up to claim victory after an exciting drag to the line, narrowly fending off both Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal).


Geraint Thomas was the first Team Sky finisher home in 29th, with Nieve remaining one minute and 58 seconds back on race leader Fabio Aru (Astana). The bunch finish also allowed the team to maintain a 3:45 lead in the team classification.



Team Sky took the start in Andorra with just eight riders after an MRI on Thursday morning revealed that Chris Froome had suffered a fracture to his right foot during his stage 11 crash.


With Froome unable to extend his superb record in recent Grand Tours, Team Sky pulled together and continued the race into its second week.


On a likely day for the sprinters it was Trek Factory Racing and Giant-Alpecin who combined to set the pace. A five-man breakaway went away early but the chance of a bunch sprint was never going to be passed up once the second-category Coll de Boixols had been ticked off.


After the stage Sports Director Dario Cioni talked about the team's renewed goals with Froome now resting up back at home.


The Italian told "Some of our goals might have changed from the start of the race but we still have our targets in this Vuelta. Mikel is up there on GC so one of them is to support him as our main GC rider. At the same time we're also leading the team classification and that is another goal for us. We've got a strong team here and we hope we can always have three guys up in a good position. So that's a big target and whoever wins that gets to have the entire team on the podium in Madrid.


"There are some really good riders in this team and we will support Mikel, but that does not mean that some guys cannot have a bit more freedom. As (Ian) Boswell showed yesterday, from a breakaway we can still be in contention to win a stage."


"Obviously yesterday was a big day for everyone and today was more of a transition stage. It was quite clear from early on that Giant were going to commit to try and set up a sprint finish. The course also favoured that, even if the peloton did catch the break really late. But it was a good time to have this transition day and from tomorrow it's game on again."



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