Thursday, February 21, 2013

"I'm on the right path"

Ace climber Mikel Nieve has gotten his season off to a strong start, taking third at a stage in the Tour of the Med before going on to place 12th overall in the Vuelta a Andalucía yesterday.

Hitting the gas so early in the year represents a marked change for the 28-year-old. The former Orbea rider has usually eased his way into competition in order to peak for the Giro d'Italia and, later on, the Vuelta a España - but that's all out the window as he for the first time centers his season around the Tour.

"This year I've started out pretty strong, and a little change from the ordinary motivates me", he told Gara.

"At the moment I'm feeling good. I didn't have the best of days yesterday (Tuesday, finishing 15th on the final stage in Andalucía), but I'm feeling good in training and I think I'm on the right path. Let's hope I keep improving in the next races. I intend to be among the frontrunners at Paris-Nice and further improve my shape to have a good first half of the season".

After completing the prestigious French one-week race, Nieve will set his sights on the Volta a Catalunya, GP Miguel Indurain, Vuelta a Castilla y León and the Tour de Romandie.

"Focussing on one-week stage races is another way to do things for me, and it's something I have to learn", the Grand Tour expert said. "They are races that could be well suited to me. I've got a nice racing schedule and I have to take advantage of it. I'd love to get a top overall placing in one of them and win a stage in either Paris-Nice, the Volta or in Romandie".

Together with Igor Antón, the double Grand Tour stage victor will spearhead the orange charge on French roads in July. Leadership duties bring with them both positives and negatives, he claims.

"It's got its good and bad points, but it means I can get there, reach top form and give it my all", he concluded.

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