Vuelta a España: Enric Mas goes into red trying to follow Evenepoel: ‘Next time I’ll know better’

Movistar climber defends second but it proves costly: 'I went too deep trying to follow Remco.'

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

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NAVA, Spain (VN) — Enric Mas admitted he made a costly mistake in trying to follow the wheel of Remco Evenepoel in Sunday’s thrilling finale at the Vuelta a España.

The Movistar climber tried in vain to match Evenepoel’s wheel, only to go into the red, and end up losing even more time.

Mas remained second overall in the Vuelta, but slipped back to 1:12 after giving up more rope to the surprising legs of Evenepoel.

“I went too deep trying to follow Remco,” Mas said. “It would have gone better if I had gone at my own pace, I would have finished closer to him. Next time I’ll know better.”

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Despite the misjudgment, Mas is riding a great Vuelta following a disappointing Tour de France that saw him leave with a COVID-19 infection after slipping out of the top-10 in the final week in July.

Since the Vuelta started, Mas is one of the few riders who’ve been able to stay close to Evenepoel on the climbs. The Belgian looks impervious at the moment but Mas keeps the bigger picture in mind.

“Right now he looks untouchable,” he said of Evenepoel. “But the Vuelta is three weeks. Today he was stronger than me, but like I’ve said since the Vuelta started, we are racing each stage one at a time.”

Mas heads into the rest day second overall, and will be under pressure to defend his podium spot in Tuesday’s time trial against the likes of Primož Roglič or Carlos Rodríguez.

“Right now we are second on GC. I don’t know if I will be able to do something big, but the Vuelta is very long.” Mas said. “I don’t know how many grand tours he’s done [Evenepoel], but I’m 27, and it’s likely I’ve done a few more, and maybe I can use that to my advantage.”

Also nipping at his toes are Rodríguez and Juan Ayuso, two young Spanish riders making their respective grand tour debuts.

“I’m happy for them,” he said. “Those two young guys are doing a great race. They remind me a bit of me when I was second at the 2018 Vuelta. I’m happy to see Spanish like this, that it’s growing.”

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