Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nieve 7th on stage; 12th overall

Euskaltel put in yet another textbook example of excellent team-work on today's penultimate stage of the Vuelta. The stage took the riders to the highly-anticipated stage-finish at the Bola del Mundo, a climb never before used in a professional bike race. As ordered, JJ Oroz got into the break of the day to give Euskaltel presence up front. And just like on Monday's stage to Cotobello, Txurruka and Nieve jumped clear of the pack with some 40km to go and quickly caught up with the main break. Oroz dug deep and sacrificed his own chances of success by doing an awful amount or work at the head of the group to increase the gap back to the Xacobeo-led pelotón. Oroz deserves all the credit he can get for his selfless riding, but the break never got the necessary distance back to the pack to stand a chance of going the whole way. They quickly got swallowed up at the base of the climb, but Amets still found the energy to go on the offensive once more along with Oscar Pujol of Cervelo. The duo were never given much leeway and were brought back in when F Schleck lit the blue touch-paper with six clicks to go. Mikel Nieve was once again very impressive on the ascent, riding to seventh on the stage after being part of the main break of the day. That's some ride! Amets also showed his form is at the up by grabbing 23rd, just 2:44 down on hapless winner Mosquera. A special mention goes out to Pablo Urtasun who did quite a spectacular ride. The sprinter finished 21st at 2:11, ahead of riders like Karpets, Plaza, Moncoutié and Menchov. That's simply sensational. A sprinter is not supposed to finish that high up on one of the, surely, hardest climbs in the sport. Amazing ride. Verdugo and Oroz were 65th and 66th respectively at 11:01 and 11:51, while Koldo ended up at exactly half an hour, hopefully taking it a little easy with an eye on tomorrow's sprinter-friendly stage to Madrid. Due to his good ride, Mikel climber to 12th on GC. Not bad for a debutant. Facing the media post-stage, the self-effacing Nieve said: "This Vuelta has been an unforgettable experience. The first days were very special; supporting Igor, winning a couple of stages, escorting the leader of the race... Those were very good days and I thoroughly enjoyed them. The fall on the way to Peña Cabarga changed everything. But we recovered, and to win on the Cotobello was like a dream. The team-work was amazing and we obtained a spectacular triumph. I knew that I was in good shape going into the Vuelta, and that I could figure at the front of the race, but, yes, I'm a little surprised to finish inside the top 15, I didn't think that was possible. I was seventh a the Bola del Mundo. I could even see Schleck's group ahead of me. I was up ahead, and that's given me motivation for the remaining races on the calendar."


arnout said...

He delivered some solid results from the moment he joined Euskaltel, but I didn't expect this.

When the Vuelta started, he was very good. I expected him to go backwards after a week and then after two weeks, but he improved instead. Classy.

We have a new superdomestique and that's great news considering the depth of the Euskaltel squad in the mountains has been a problem the last few years.

Superdomestique might even be offensive, considering his ride this Vuelta.

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