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“It was the last day to try something because I’m a climber and this was the last mountain stage. I’ve had some health problems in the last few days but I’m better now so it was my last chance."

Photo: Sirotti

MIKEL NIEVE

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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24.07.2014 @ 20:15 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Having recovered from an infection, Mikel Nieve gave it one desperate final try to save Team Sky's Tour de France when he attacked in today's big mountain stage. In the end, he had to console himself with the most aggressive rider award.

 

Mikel Nieve put in a spirited performance on stage 18 of the Tour de France but was unable to hold off the chasing peloton on the road to Hautacam.

 

The Basque rider deservedly picked up the most aggressive rider award for his efforts on the final mountain stage of the race, which saw him make his way into the day’s 20-man breakaway before attacking on the mighty Col du Tourmalet.

 

Working alongside fellow escapee Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale), the pair pushed onwards down the descent but were chased hard all day by a motivated peloton led by the yellow jersey of Vincenzo Nibali and his Astana team.

 

With a slender advantage of one and a half minutes as they began the feared Hautacam climb, Nieve quickly kicked on with 12km to go but was eventually reeled in by a rampant Nibali, en route to his fourth stage win of the race.

 

With many places in the top 10 still to be decided, the lead group accelerated, eventually leapfrogging Nieve, who ended the stage 24th, and tackled the race’s final summit finish.

 

While the lead of Nibali was pushed out to a dominant 7:10, the fight for the remaining podium positions intensified as Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) claimed second on the stage and second overall. The Frenchman now sits just 13 seconds ahead of compatriot Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and 15 ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who dropped two spots on the day.

 

“It was the last day to try something because I’m a climber and this was the last mountain stage," Nieve told ITV. "I’ve had some health problems in the last few days but I’m better now so it was my last chance.

 

"Those past few days have been very hard for me because I've suffered an infection. I already tried in the Alps and I tried again today because I had good legs.

 

“I had good legs today. I think without the illness I would have been able to have a better Tour de France but I tried and gave it my best.

 

"Nibali was very strong when he attacked. He was really above everyone and he wanted to gain time on GC so it was impossible to follow him. But I'm still happy with my Tour."

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