'We’ll go on trying our best' - Mas slides to third after time trial at Vuelta a España

Enric Mas during the stage 10 time trial at Vuelta a Espana
Enric Mas during the stage 10 time trial at Vuelta a Espana (Image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

By his own admission, Enric Mas (Movistar) may not have ridden an outstanding time trial on Tuesday in the Vuelta a España but the Spaniard said he was content nonetheless at having limited the damage inflicted by his GC rivals.

“Happy. I didn’t do a very bad TT,” was the somewhat contradictory way that Mas summed up stage 10 in which he finished tenth, 1:51 behind winner and race leader Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl).

However, on the plus side, Mas remains on the provisional GC podium, albeit dropping to third place after Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) outstripped the Spaniard by almost a minute on a course, which as Mas observed later did him no favours at all. 

Mas at least did not suffer a repeat of the finale of last year’s time trial, when Roglič overtook him close to the finale, even if Evenepoel, who started two minutes later, had Mas in his sights on the last little rise and a long drop down to the finish in Alicante city centre.

But Mas, who is now 3:03 down on Evenepoel overall, said it had been no surprise that Evenepoel had, as he put it, “flown. He’s confirmed that he’s going very well,” he told reporters afterwards.

Visibly more uncomfortable in the last third of the time trial where he lost nearly a minute to the Belgian, he recognised that he was “not totally pleased, because I started the TT well but by the end it was not going great.

"But this was a time trial ‘for them’, that is to say it was one for specialists. There weren’t that many climbs, it wasn’t that tough and I was beaten.”

After Wednesday’s flat stage 11 down to the natural park at Cabo de Gato in Spain’s more south-easterly point, in any case, Mas will be back on theoretically much more favourable terrain in the mountains of Andalucia from Thursday onwards. 

Despite having two Vuelta podium finishes already in his palmares, following his very challenging Tour de France, Mas has spent much of the Vuelta keeping expectations at a minimum. And although he remains on track for now at least to fight for a third, his attitude towards the second half of the Spanish Grand Tour following what was arguably the toughest stage of the entire race for him remained as notably non-committal as ever.

“Tomorrow [Wednesday] is a very flat day and then on Thursday, we’ll see what happens next,” he told reporters after the time trial. “We’ll go on trying our best."

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, 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. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.