Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Brave Nieve climbs GC

Mikel Nieve made an audacious solo attack with some 60 clicks to ride in the first foray into the Dolomites, was eventually caught, persevered on the mighty Giau and placed a remarkable 12th on the stage. As a result, the Euskaltel leader made a big jump on GC.

It was reminiscent of the epic breakaway he completed in the 2010 edition of the Vuelta a España: Amets Txurruka gave Nieve a lead-out worthy of a sprint train on the third to last climb with the break some 1:40 up the road, Nieve broke clear, reeled in the break with consummate ease, but was, unlike two years ago, never given much leeway by a obstinate Liquigas. Nieve's gap never stretched beyond 1:10, and he was caught, along with the remnants of the early break, on the Forcella. Impressively, he managed to handle the pace, and somehow managed to distance the likes of Henao, Moreno, Cunego, Intxausti and De Gendt on the slopes of the Giau. Eventually he crossed the line in 12th place, in a small group 1:22 in arrears, and thus rose to 16th on GC, passing Gianluca Brambilla and Astana's Kreuziger (who's implosion on the Forcella ruled him out of the running for overall honours).

It was an astounding performance from the Euskaltel leader. First of all, attacking the peloton solo approximately 60 click from the line with three mountains left to climb takes some guts. It was a bold move, and one unlikely to work out, but it's the kind of move that makes the team stand out in a Grand Tour and animates the racing. It obviously didn't work out, but I still reckon it was worthwhile - chapeau!

Then managing to cling onto the lead group on one of the Giro's hardest stages and finishing among the  first chase group showed Nieve is in peak form. Additionally, he seems to possess the ability to pace himself on the climbs and ride smartly - much like a certain Samuel Sánchez.

The Leitza-native is now 16th overall - a single minute behind tenth-placed Henao.

Honourable mentions go out to Amets Txurruka, who gave it his all for his captain and still managed to finish 25th, and the team as a whole. The pace-setting at the head of the pack to set up Nieve was the work of a well-oiled machine and it worked out perfectly. More of that, please!

Speaking post-stage, Nieve intimated jumping clear of the peloton relatively early was planned.

"We took a risk and were ambitious", he told the team's website. "In the meeting prior to the race we talked about going for broke from afar. No one went with me though, and it was impossible to make it on my own."

Stage 17 results:
  • (1, Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha), 5:24:42)
  • 12, Mikel Nieve, 1:22
  • 25, Amets Txurruka, 8.36
  • 45, Iván Velasco, 21:01
  • 67, Juan José Oroz, 26:35
  • 148, Adrián Sáez, 38:26
  • 149, Jon Izagirre, s.t.
  • 154, Miguel Minguez, s.t.
  • 156, Pierre Cazaux, s.t.
  • 158, Víctor Cabedo, s.t.



Kristof said...

He played and lost. He was so good today, without his attack he surely stays within the group Basso. He attacked, died, did rise again and finally died. Fantastic rider this Nieve, allthough top 10 becomes almost impossible now. Maybe a bit too much confidence in the team today but they show their shirts.

Kristof said...

Does anyone know how much riders out of GC gets WT points? top 10/12?

Franck said...


Nick said...

He was sooo close to gapping on the Giau.

Valiant effort and brilliant display nonetheless from Nieve.

@Kristof: top 10 is still definite possibility. HE'S proved he is one of the top10 climbers going now in the Giro and the 7 riders ahead of him are all only 1 minute up.

Tiralongo, Henao, and Cataldo all lost time today (and probably will continue to), and Nieve proved he can ride away from Tschopp, de Gendt, Cunego, and Moreno (even after going solo for 30-40k).

Definitely would have been with the top 6 without the earlier exertion in the stage.

Kristof said...

Well let's hope, he really has given many this Giro, let's hope he has some force the last days. I remember last year he had also a bad day the last climbers stage, what happened to Kreuzinger or Henao can also happen to our orange hero. And then there's also this TT, this definetely is his weak point. However, not a bad word about this brave Euskaltel rider. After what he showed today (and in the past), he is simply one of the best and most attractive riders of the whole peleton. It's almost tragic Euskaltel doubted to give him a new contract at the end of 2010. Sometimes I have the feeling the team doesn't know the capacity of its riders. Give this man a contract until 2016 at least, now!

Stephen said...

Brave effort from our man today after massive amount of work from the team.

I'd rather see a rider try something and maybe fail than just hide in the wheels all day every day (like Basso in the TDF last year)

After a quiet opening the team have certainly played thier part in what has been a very good Giro this year.


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