Enric Mas will be co-leader of Spain’s biggest team, Movistar, at the Tour de France, convinced that his experience on the Deceuninck-Quick Step squad alongside Julian Alaphilippe last July will prove invaluable.
Mas was part of the Deceuninck-Quick Step team that battled to retain Julian Alaphilippe’s yelllow jersey for most of last year’s Tour. The Frenchman led for a fortnight in total before eventually cracking in the Alps and losing the yellow jersey to Egan Bernal (Team Ineos)
While the 25-year-old Mas will head to this year’s Tour with his own, elevated GC aspirations as co-leader of Movistar, he emphasised what he had taken away from being at Alpahilippe’s side in 2019.
“It was something unique, a real learning experience,” Mas told reporters in a video press conference on Wednesday.
“Having the yellow jersey with Julian for so long meant I had plenty of time to soak up every detail of what it implied. Not just the racing, but off the bike as well – nutrition, the media responsibilities, and so on – and for this year that could be very useful.”
Mas finished overall at 2018 Vuelta a España, and will now seek to step up a level at Movistar, where he will race two Grand Tours in the same season for the first time when he lines out at the Tour and the Vuelta a España alongside co-leader Alejandro Valverde. Marc Soler, who has been in the team since 2015, will concentrate exclusively on the Giro d’Italia.
“Enric, alongside Alejandro, will continue to build on his Grand Tour experience, and adapting to our team,” said manager Eusebio Unzue. “Marc, who deserves opportunities like this one after all his hard work in previous years, will be sole leader at the Giro.”
Mas himself will follow the same approach path as Valverde regarding the Tour. First up is the Vuelta a Burgos in late July, where Movistar’s men’s team are due to resume their season, followed by the Criterium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France.
“I think I’m fully ready to go,” Mas told reporters.
“Racing next to Alejandro will be a big plus, other teams don’t have that advantage We know he’s very consistent and I’m going to learn a lot for sure.”
As for his own condition and how he’s lived through the still ongoing coronavirus lockdown in Spain, Mas, like Valverde, said that he found the first few weeks of having to stay at home a harsh experience.
“On the positive side, when I finally got out training again, I was like a kid with a new toy. I’m getting good form now and my weight’s on track, so it’s all going well,” Mas said.
“It’s going to be a very intense period of racing, three or four months flat out. But provided we take care of ourselves, we should be okay.”
Mas was also asked about the rumours that had linked Chris Froome as a potential mid-season signing for Movistar.
“I’d always be very proud to have Froome in my team,” Mas said. “But nobody believed that it would happen.”
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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