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There was a bitter end to the career of Basque climber Mikel Nieve.
The Caja Rural-Seguros captain ended his time in the pro peloton with a broken collarbone after a dramatic fall in the opening hours of Il Lombardia on Saturday.
“I arrived wanting to do it well, Lombardia is a race that I like, but a bottle crossed the road and we could do nothing to do it. It’s obvious that I would have liked to finish in a different way, but cycling is like that and it’s time to accept it,” Nieve said Saturday night.
Nieve was pictured bloodied up and meters from his bike after an off-camera crash on a high-speed descent Saturday.
The 38-year-old promptly pulled out of the race holding a collarbone that later proved to be broken.
“The ending that nobody wanted for a special day for the Navarrese,” Caja Rural wrote on social media.
🇮🇹🍂 Desgraciadamente,una caída ha obligado a @NieveMikel a abandonar #IlLombardia, afectado en la clavícula. El final que nadie quería para un día especial para el navarro 😢#Súmatealverde 💚 pic.twitter.com/LgS1b5pfb2
— Team Caja Rural-RGA (@CajaRural_RGA) October 8, 2022
It was no sweet swansong to a 14-year career that saw Nieve lead Basque hopes during time with Orbea-Oreka, Euskaltel Euskadi and latterly Caja Rural, and deliver stage victories and a KoM jersey at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España. He was also a bedrock of “Fortress Froome” when he rode superdomestique at Team Sky from 2014-2017.
“Despite the blows and the broken collarbone, I’m fine,” he said. “Now it’s time to look forward, my stage as a cyclist concludes here, and I’m satisfied and proud of everything I’ve experienced.”
Nieve is one of a long list of top-level retirees this weekend.
Alejandro Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali, Niki Terpstra and Philippe Gilbert also hang up their wheels after riding through Lombardia and Paris-Tours.