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Tour de France

Enric Mas survives brutal first week at Tour de France: ‘I hope to keep moving up’

Mas avoids most of the landmines in the first week as he relishes the looming Alps.

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Enric Mas continues to sidestep one landmine after another in the first week of the Tour de France, and the Movistar climber is poised to enter the Alps this weekend in ideal position.

Mas limited his losses to Tadej Pogačar in Friday’s explosive finale at Super Belles Filles, and shook off being caught up in the pileup early in Saturday’s transition stage into Switzerland.

“I hope to keep moving up little by little,” Mas said.

The Spanish rider crossed the line Friday at 21 seconds behind Pogačar, and climbed three positions on GC to settle into ninth at 1:43 back. On Saturday Mas finished in the front group, but ceded four seconds like everyone else to Pogačar on time bonuses.

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That’s about as good as Movistar could have hoped for during a tricky first week that included echelons, cobbles, and gravel on the summit Friday.

“I’m pretty happy,” Mas said. “The last time I climbed up here I lost 33 seconds. The team was a ’10’ today and they were always protecting me.

“The finish line area was complicated,” he said. “There was a lot of gravel, and you can see that it had been smoothed out, but where the cars hadn’t passed over, the bike would move a little bit.

“We are making it through day by day. We were OK on the pavé, and again on the bridge in Denmark, and this time, I entered with the favorites.”

Matteo Jorgenson: ‘We have super good morale’

Mas and Movistar are taking aim for the final podium in Paris, but will be outsiders behind the powerhouses of UAE Team Emirates, Jumbo-Visma, and Ineos Grenadiers.

“Enric is entering a new phase of maturity and experience, and we believe he can be there with the best,” said Movistar boss Esubio Unzué. “He needs to take that extra step to reach the podium, and I believe if we can avoid any serious problems, he will be up there fighting for the maximum.”

American rider Matteo Jorgenson was key in helping to tow Mas back to the front in Wednesday’s wild ride across the cobbles, and said the team’s morale is sky high.

“We have super good morale,” Jorgenson said. “We have made it with less time loss than expected, and now the Tour starts with stages better suited for Mas.”

Mas is keeping his fingers crossed until the hit the Alps, and then he hopes he will a clear road toward the top.

“We’ve been lucky we haven’t crashed so far,” Mas said. “I hope to keep moving up little by little, and then we’ll see.”