Mikel Nieve returns to his cycling roots at Caja Rural

The Spanish veteran is the final rider on the Caja Rural roster for 2022 and brings a wealth of experience after 14 seasons in the pro peloton.

Photo: Tim de Waele / Getty Images

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Mikel Nieve’s career has gone full circle after the Spanish veteran signed a contract to race with Caja Rural-Seguros RGA in 2022.

Nieve raced with the Caja Rural amateur team between 2004 and 2007 before launching a professional career that has lasted almost 15 years.

He moves to the Caja Rural after four years with Team BikeExchange and is the final rider on the 2022 roster. The return to the Navarra-based squad — Nieve’s home region — will see the 37-year-old compete for a Spanish team for the first time since Euskaltel-Euskadi folded at the end of 2013.

Also read: Vuelta a España unsung heroes: Mikel Nieve wanted to be like Miguel Indurain as a kid

“It will be special to get dressed again in the Caja Rural-Seguros RGA jersey. It is the team where I started learning to be a cyclist, enjoying five very good years of which I keep very good memories,” Nieve said.

“Since then, the team has grown. In this time, I have been able to be part of other teams with different languages and cultures, and returning to compete at home feels good.”

Nieve has developed a career as one of the most consistent grand tour riders in the bunch, as well as a solid domestique when needed. In 22 appearances at three-week races, he has only failed to finish one, which was the 2020 Tour de France.

He has amassed six top-10 finishes at grand tours and his 31st place at this year’s Vuelta a España, where he was caught up in a heavy crash in the first week, is his lowest-ever finishing result.

During his career, Nieve has won three Giro d’Italia stages and one at the Vuelta a España. He also claimed a stage win at the 2014 Criterium du Dauphine.

As well as potentially hunting for victories, Nieve will play a role as a mentor to the team’s younger riders.

“I want to contribute on the bicycle and also off it, give my experiences to the young colleagues, and help them in their progression,” Nieve said. “On a personal level, I want to enjoy cycling and being on the bike. In 2021, I had several crashes that prevented things from going well.

“This new season I look forward to with great enthusiasm and motivation. All races will be special with this jersey, and I want to do my best while enjoying the bike.”

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.