Enric Mas set for Tour de France debut in 2019

Contador sees it as 'practically impossible' for Spaniard to win Tour without strong team

After finishing on the podium of this year's Vuelta a España, Enric Mas is set to make his Tour de France debut in 2019.

Although not yet confirmed by his team, the Spaniard offered more than a hint of his plans during a joint interview with Alberto Contador on Spain's main broadcaster RTVE this week.

Firstly, the structure of his season is one that appears to be geared around July. Having started out in Australia in January in his first two seasons as a professional, Mas revealed he will begin 2019 in February at the Volta ao Algarve. He will then head to an altitude camp before his first 'serious block' consisting of the Volta a Catalunya, Vuelta al País Vasco, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. In June he will do the Tour de Suisse before heading on another altitude camp.

Logic would dictate that he would then head to the Tour in July.

"I have spoken about it with the team, but we haven't defined it yet," Mas said. "I would like to go to the Tour, but going there and improving on what I did at the Vuelta, although not impossible, would be very difficult.

"I'm going to work hard this winter to do something good there, but you need luck and everything else. I'm going to work hard to do as well as possible."

Team support

One key topic discussed by Mas and Contador was the Quick-Step team. Although one of the most prolific teams for a number of years, the Belgian squad has traditionally been focused on Classics and stage wins, rather than riding for general classification.

After discussing a Tour route that suits him well, with an emphasis on climbing and altitude over time trialling, Mas said: "I'll have a team for the flat, which is where I'll need them most. Let's see what happens."

Contador then pointed out that, even on the flat stages, the team will likely be geared almost exclusively around sprinter Elia Viviani, and he described it as "practically impossible" to win the Tour without a strong team in the mountains.

"Quick-Step is a team which is allowing him to develop very well, but there are other teams who would be able to support him much better in his objectives," Contador said. "You can have a very good Tour without a strong team, but winning it, in this day and age, is practically impossible without a team.

"The good thing about Enric is that he will not go as a favourite - if he does go - and he'll be able to prepare as if he were a favourite and see where his legs take him. He has to try to limit his losses on the flat, in the crosswinds, and there his team will manage things very much, but you have to remember that on those days his team will be working for Viviani. Then in the mountains, it's about how far his legs will take him, but the race will be dictated by other teams." 

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