The Spaniard has two top-10 overall finishes to his name in both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, achieved during his time with Euskaltel-Euskadi, but now a top-five is within his grasp. Nieve sits fifth, 2:32 off Joaquim Rodríguez’s race lead, six seconds above Esteban Chaves in sixth, and a comfortable three minutes inside the top 10.
"For me it’s something that drives me – being so high up and seeing myself so close to the top guys on GC. So at the moment I’m happy with what I’m doing and now I have to keep going all the way to Madrid," he said in an interview with Biciciclismo.
"At the end of the day I get the best out of myself at the Grand Tours. Now I find myself in a great position and it’s really satisfying for me. We had bad luck with crashes and Froome unfortunately had a really bad one and had to go home. I have been able to hang in there, I’m in good shape and it’s now about keeping it up."
Nieve is more preoccupied at this stage by hanging onto his current position than looking to better it. That’s because Wednesday’s stage is a 38 kilometre time trial, a discipline in which the 31-year-old hardly excels.
He’ll be looking over his shoulder and aiming to limit his losses rather than having any real hope of catching those above him on GC. That said, on the three road stages that precede Madrid, Nieve is not ruling out throwing caution to the wind and going for a podium spot.
"It’s not a pan-flat time trial and up to now the sensations have been good. We’ll have to see. I’m hoping to have a good day and not lose much time on the guys up there on GC. Apart from Dumoulin, the others are hardly specialists and I’ll try to cling onto my fifth place," he said.
"After that I’m not ruling anything out. There are no summit finishes but there is some tough terrain. We’ll have to see how the GC looks after the time trial – if it’s possible we’ll give it a go.
"If I see an opportunity and my legs are good, I will give it everything. If I can get on the podium then why not?"