Having taken over the Team Sky leadership following Chris Froome's exit from the Vuelta a Espana, Mikel Nieve has gone from strength to strength in the high mountains moving up the overall classification one day at a time. 13th place in the 'queen stage' of the race lifted the 31-year-old climber from seventh to fifth overall, just under one minute from the third place of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo).
Along with the top ten riders on GC, Nieve was escorted from Ermita de Alba to Burgos where the riders will enjoy a rest day before the decisive 38.7km time trial on Tuesday which the Spaniard believes is the final chance for reshuffling the GC.
"It's a long time trial at 38 kilometres and obviously it is difficult for me. I'll obviously give it my all to try and maintain a strong position on the GC," Nieve said. "Most of the hard mountain stages are behind us now. There are only really two climbing days left, so I don't see the GC changing too much after the time trial on Wednesday. That is what makes it so important."
Nieve's previous best Grand Tour performances are three tenth places finishes from the 2011 and 2012 Giro d'Italia's and 2011 Vuelta and is on track for his first result well and truly inside the top ten overall in a three week race.
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