He might not be the most popular of riders, Mikel Astarloza, but he showed on Tuesday that he's not in France just to tag along.
The veteran got into the big break of the day and hung on for seventh - not too shabby considering the quality of that 26-man break and the climbs littered across the route.
While clearly not at his pre-ban best, he still seems to be able to pull of a result or two.
"I liked today's stage, we knew the break would stand a chance and all teams naturally wanted in", he said post-race. "There was a big fight to get into the break. In the end, quite a few got away. It's hard to come out tops against so many riders, but we were up there and had our chance".
While Astarloza were up front getting busy, the rest of the squad played it more safe. Nieve, resplendent in his borrowed polkadot jersey (and socks, bib shorts, helmet, you name it), came in with the third group and didn't look to be going full gas up the Col de Manse.
Antón, who appeared to flat or get a mechanical at the worst possible time, trailed in almost ten minutes behind the first group and consequently plunged to 28th overall. With stage wins and the polkadots being the goals, though, the further off you are, the better.
- (1, Rui Costa (Movistar), 3:52:45)
- 7, Mikel Astarloza, 1:01
- 53, Mikel Nieve, 12:47
- 65, Gorka Izagirre, 15:10
- 67, Juan José Oroz, 15:41
- 80, Ion Izagirre, 19:16
- 120, Rubén Pérez, 20:57
- 122, Romain Sicard, s.t.
- 145, Igor Antón, 21:46
- 146, Juan José Lobato, s.t.