After five years in the orange team kit of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Mikel Nieve will wear Team Sky's black and blue colours in 2014 and have a new role as a super domestique in the Grand Tours.
"I have respect for the team and I'm enthusiastic. Everything will be new but they have great riders, including the winners of the last two Tours. It'll be my job to work for them,” Nieve said in an interview published Biciciclismo.
Nieve turned professional in 2009 after riding for the Basque feeder team Orbea. The 29-year old from Navarra had his breakthrough year in 2010 when he won the stage to Alto de Cotobello in the Vuelta and finished 12th overall. In 2011 he won the stage to Gardeccia in the Giro and was tenth overall at both the Giro and the Vuelta. This year he made his debut in the Tour de France with a third place in the stage to Mont Ventoux and 12th place in the overall classification.
“That was my best day in the Tour,” Nieve recalled. “I had a lot of allergies earlier on in the season. I prepared the season well but because of the allergies it didn’t go as well as planned. After Mont Ventoux people congratulated me. It is my goal to return to that kind of form and to be more consistent.”
Nieve will be an important rider in Grand Tours as Richie Porte targets the Giro d'Italia and Chris Froome looks to win a second consecutive Tour de France.
“Sky wants me to help their captains in the mountains,” Nieve said. “If the team leader is there to win the Giro or the Tour and for me to be part of that team must be something very satisfying and something very important.”
Nieve was the first of the Euskaltel-riders to secure his future despite his contract with Euskaltel-Euskadi for 2014.
“I was happy that my future was secured quickly and that I can stay in the WorldTour,” he said.
Nieve is only one of six riders from Euskaltel-Euskadi to have found a place for 2014 in WorldTour teams. The Izagirre brothers and Juanjo Lobato are going to Movistar, Mikel Landa to Astana and Romain Sicard is set to ride for Europcar.
“The situation is very bad and I hope a solution will be found,” Nieve said.
“At the Clasíca San Sebastian they told us we could look for a new team. Team Sky is the best team to go to and naturally I decided to go there and not wait for another project, which I didn’t know what it was going to be like.”
Nieve’s season ended relatively early; he did not race after the Vuelta. As a result, he has already started training again in the gym and riding in the mountains.
“Team Sky’s performance manager Rod Ellingworth told me to do things easy and like I always do them before we start the serious and more demanding training.”
Team Sky first winter training camp will be on the island of Mallorca in December.