Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nieve: "We should improve in the time trials"

While Mikel Nieve got what he came for in the Giro d'Italia, a top ten overall, he was left to rue a preparation blighted by injury and the usual big time losses against the watch. The Grand Tour specialist ceded the grand total of seven minutes and 33 seconds combined in the time trials compared to the winner of each stage (prologue, team time trial, individual time trial) en route to finishing tenth at 8:08 from winner Ryder Hesjedal. No wonder he's targeting improvement in the crono.

"We should improve in that discipline", he said frankly to Gara. "In the team time trial we suffered bad luck to go with it. We had punctures as well as Amets Txurruka's crash".

Overall though, Nieve was content with his showing all things considered.

"It's not easy to finish top ten in this race. To do it, you have to be switched on every single day and never relax. I felt the fatigue in the last week - I noticed I couldn't up the pace. It's a shame I didn't get to prepare well for this race. One month before the race I had just been off the bike for 15 days, which naturally caught up with me. If everything had gone smoother, I might have done better. I was not on my best day on the stage to the Stelvio and De Gendt deservedly took the spoils. I realized he was stronger than me. I just couldn't take the pace."

One who did handle the pace for quite a while was Ion Izagirre, who gave Nieve a vital hand in his attack at the base of the climb that eventually sealed Nieve's top ten placing. Izagirre's strength surprised even his team leader.

"I was expecting him to do well, but not that well! I knew he was strong, but him winning a stage and staying with the 10-15 best in the Dolomites in the last week surprised even me. He performed really well - just like the entire team."


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