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"To be selected right from the beginning is a boost of confidence that I really appreciate. I also feel a great responsibility as we have the last two winners of the Tour and this year Froome will again be the favourite. I will try to...

Photo: Sirotti

MIKEL NIEVE

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

TOUR OF OMAN

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
15.02.2014 @ 15:39 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After 5 years with Euskaltel, Mikel Nieve has joined what is arguably the strongest stage racing team in the world, Sky Procycling, and will make his debut in next week's Tour of Oman. Having already been selected for the Tour de France, the Spaniard feels a great responsibility to continue the success of the British team in the world's biggest race.

 

Things will change for Mikel Nieve in 2014. When he turned pro with Euskaltel in 2009, it didn't take long time for the young Basque to earn himself a leadership role at his home team and top 10 finishes in both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana as well as wins on the queen stages in both races have made him a protected rider for most of the grand tours he has done.

 

With the demise of Euskaltel, Nieve will, however, swap the orange of Euskaltel for the blue of Sky in 2014. With the change comes a new role as Nieve is now expected to ride in support of some of the major stars that have shined for the British team.

 

Nieve is now ready for his season debut in next week's Tour of Oman but he has already had the chance to be part of the set-up that has made Sky famous. After 5 years with one of the smallest WorldTour teams, he admits that it has been a massive change.

 

"At first I had a lot of respect for such a big change but the reception from the team has been very good," he said in an interview published on his personal website. "They have helped me in all aspects and this makes it much easier to integrate and feel good."

 

However, the language has been a barrier for the Spanish climber.

 

"It is not wasy for me to understand and speak English, especially with my teammates, but I am slowly learning a bit more and they help me as much as they can," he said. "My goal is to learn it as soon as possible and be able to use it on a daily basis."

 

Nieve has now had some time to get accustomed to the Sky training regimen that has been so overly successful. The Spaniard is impressed with what he has seen so far.

 

"I have done a lot of hours on the bike," he said. "They value the importance of training and analyze everything you do in great detail. It is not too different from what I have done until now but I have done quite a few more hours on the bike than usual.

 

"For a month, I have been training in Mallorca in 10-day blocks and have done many kilometres. The work pays off and I feel better every day. I am already looking forward to putting on a number for the first time."

 

Nieve will make his debut on Tuesday when the Tour of Oman kicks off. Last year Chris Froome took his first ever stage race win in the Omani race and he will be back to defend his title.

 

Nieve hopes to help him again reach the top step.

 

"I intend to help the team as much as I can," he said. "Froome and Henao are two riders that can win the race and I will try to be with them in the mountain stages. It will be my first race with Sky and I want to do well."

 

The race will be an appetizer for Nieve who is set to support Froome for much of the season. The highlight will be the Tour de France as the Spaniard has already been selected as one of the key riders that shall help keep the Sky ball rolling in France.

 

"It was a pleasant surprise," he said. "To be selected right from the beginning is a boost of confidence that I really appreciate. I also feel a great responsibility as we have the last two winners of the Tour and this year Froome will again be the favourite. I will try to do my best to be with him and reach our goal."

 

Nieve may mostly have been signed as a support rider but will also get his personal chances to shine. His race schedule includes the Tirreno-Adriatico, Settimana Coppi e Bartali, the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the Tour de Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphiné in the build-up to the Tour and he has singled out two important events.

 

"Tirreno-Adriatico and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco are two prestigious races," he said. "They are very important for me. I will try to reap the benefits of all the work I have done so far. I have not marked any particular stage in red but it is true that the first two stages of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco pass very close to my home and I will start them with special motivation."

 

The Tour of Oman starts on Tuesday and takes in some very mountainous terrain during its six days.

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