Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Nieve "calm" ahead of Tour bow

"I don't usually get nervous", he says. "I'm a calm person, both in good times and when things aren't going that well. Being restless is another thing, though. It's the most important race in the world, I've heard a lot of stories about it, and I'm eager to race it".

Those are the words of Mikel Nieve less than a week before his Tour de France debut. The 29-year-old Grand Tour specialist will co-lead 'the Carrots' alongside fellow climber Igor Antón, but he's not letting the pressure of the occasion get to him.

"It's my first Tour, so I have to approach it with calmness", he tells Basque Cycling News. "I hope to be in good shape. I've worked really hard for it, so I hope I've succeeded in finding top form. If my legs are good I hope to be in the fight for a stage win. The general classification is another story.

"I hope to be strong in the mountain stages, but to be up there on GC you have to get through the first week unscathed, and they're usually very intense and tiring... We'll go little by little, stage by stage, and see how the race develops".

He might be the last to say it, Nieve, but he's got the Grand Tour pedigree that makes him a real dark horse for the biggest race on the planet this summer.

He's never finished outside the top ten in any of the four Grand Tours he's done (twice in the Vuelta, twice in the Giro), and he's got queen-stage wins in both events to his name. His consistency over three weeks naturally leads to the following question:

How far do you think you can go in Grand Tours?

"The three-week races are the ones that are most suited to my characteristics", he says. "I'm a ciclista de fondo, very consistent, so the long and hard races are very good for me. Victories like the one on the Cotobello (2010 Vuelta) and Gardecchia (2011 Giro) are very special to me. I'm also pleased to have finished in the top ten in the Grand Tours that I've done.

"If I improve against the clock, I'd like to fight for a top five overall, for example, in the future".

Nieve recently concluded his Tour preparations with 17th at the Critérium du Dauphiné, a race in which he "improved in the last two days in the mountains" and "were close to the best riders". With the dress rehearsal done and dusted with, it's time to put the finishing touches to his Tour preparations - which, so close to the start, doesn't consists of very much.

"More than 90 percent of the work is done by this time. Now it's time to rest and try to improve a little bit more with a few quality rides, but", he's keen stress, "I'll do it with calmness".

1 comment:

Josh Buehner said...

I'm really looking forward to Nieve's performance in the Tour (also Sicard's). I think he's got an ace up his sleeve. Let's see that Navarran panache!


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