Basque climber looking forward to joining “the best team in the world”
Mikel Nieve has confirmed rumours circulating at the World Championships last week that he has agreed to join Sky Procycling on a two-year deal from the start of next season. The 29-year-old Basque climber has a contract with his current Euskaltel-Euskadi team that runs to the end of 2014, but has been free to pursue other options since Euskaltel announced their decision to leave the sport at the end of this season.
Speaking to El Diario de Navarra, Nieve admitted he had not considered joining the new team led by F1 star Fernando Alonso, who had been negotiating to take over the Euskaltel set-up. “Even before the Fernando Alonso option appeared I was already convinced that I wanted to go to Sky,” he said. “I’ve still not signed because I wanted to see how things played out with Euskaltel, but I’ve agreed a two-year deal.”
Nieve revealed that he is ready to take on a new role as a support rider when he joins the British team having established himself as a grand tour leader during his five seasons with Euskaltel. Over that period he has finished 10th in the Giro and Vuelta, winning stages at both races. This summer, he made his debut at the Tour de France, finishing 12th thanks largely to an impressive showing on Mont Ventoux, where he finished third behind yellow jersey Chris Froome.
“I fully understand that I am going to be working for other team-mates, and that this is a team where I can provide real support in mountain stages,” he said. “I know that I am going to a team in which I am going to ride in a very different way and in which things are going to be very different all-round. I believe this change will suit me very well. It is the best team in the world and I believe I can progress as a rider.”
Nieve also revealed he had spoken several times with Sky’s Xabi Zandio about the British team. According to Nieve, Zandio had convinced him that it was the right move to make.
He acknowledged he feels lucky to have a contract for next season when so many of his Euskaltel team-mates are still searching for options. “I’ve spent five years with these guys. I don’t know if all of them are going to find a team for next season. It’s not an easy situation, I wish them all the best of luck,” Nieve said.
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