Mikel Nieve ensured that Mitchelton-Scott’s 2018 Giro d’Italia ended on a high note with victory in the final mountain stage on Saturday. The Basque rider was part of the early break and attacked with 30km remaining to seal his first win for the Australian team, and their fifth stage of this year’s race. After former maglia rosa Simon Yates tumbled down the standings on stage 19, Nieve’s win was the perfect response.
“It has been a perfect day today, just the way I dreamed it and I am really happy for myself and for the team,” Nieve said at the line.
The 34-year-old moved to Mitchelton at the start of the year after four seasons with Team Sky. He came into the Giro looking to support both Yates and Esteban Chaves in their quest for the GC, however, the plan changed after Yates dropped out of contention. Nieve, however, has grown stronger throughout May, having only returned from a hip injury in April.
He made his season debut at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, before complete the Tour de Romandie as part of his final Giro preparation. In the Giro’s third week he began to find his form and with no GC tasks ahead of him, the now three-time Giro stage winner was allowed to ride his own race.
“ After yesterday, it was important to bounce back and now we have to be happy with what we have achieved at the Giro,” he said after his win.
“With five stage wins and so many days in the Maglia Rosa it has been a great Giro d’Italia for us and we have to enjoy the final day.”
Nieve won his first Giro stage win back in 2011 and repeated the feat in 2016. Saturday’s win at Cervinia proved to the Basque rider that he is still at the highest level.
“I won my first stage at the Giro in 2011 and now after seven years, to win again is really important for me, to show I am still with the best riders, and also for the team and I am really happy.”
The result also moved Nieve up the GC and he is now Mitchelton-Scott’s best-placed rider at 18th, almost an hour down on the maglia rosa. The Giro concludes on Sunday with a stage in Roma that should be decided by a bunch sprint.
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