While Euskaltel-Euskadi desperately continue to search for a new sponsor to take over their commitment to the Basque team they have backed for almost two decades, interest is growing in the squad’s most high-profile riders.
According to Spanish website Biciciclismo, Mikel Nieve and Igor Antón are almost certain to remain in the UCI WorldTour next season, with Astana, Garmin-Sharp, Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Team Sky among those interested in the two climbers.
Both riders have had decent seasons and were prominent at the Tour, particularly 29-year-old Nieve, who finished 12th overall and third behind Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana at the summit of Mont Ventoux. More recently, he was fourth in the San Sebastian Classic. Antón, 30, finished 23rd at the Tour.
Both riders have contracts through to the end of 2014 with Euskaltel. Consequently, if a new backer does emerge for the Basque outfit, Nieve and Antón could remain in situ. However, as with their other teammates, the pair have been given the freedom by Euskaltel to sound out potential suitors.
Nieve, who has won stages in the Giro and Vuelta and had top 10 finishes in both, is likely to be a particularly attractive proposition given his proven ability over three weeks and competitiveness on the toughest climbs. Biciciclismo are reporting that Garmin-Sharp and Team Sky are particularly interested in these assets. It would be no surprise to see the British squad bolster their roster with a rider or two of Nieve’s type given the likely challenge from Movistar climbing ace Nairo Quintana in the coming seasons.
Antón, winner of four mountain stages at the Vuelta and on Monte Zoncolan in the 2011 Giro, also offers options in this area, as well as in the Ardennes Classics, where he has been a regular contender.