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Tour de France

Tour de France: Enric Mas shoots for the moon with podium bid

With Alejandro Valverde skipping the Tour, Movistar is bringing only one leader with Enric Mas.

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COPENHAGEN (VN) — Podium or bust, that’s the motto for Enric Mas in the 2022 Tour de France.

The Movistar captain is going all in for a bid for the final podium in Paris as he hopes to climb with the best in the second half of the race.

“We are here for the podium, and we’re going to try to do that,” Mas said. “That’s our main objective so let’s see if we can pull it off.”

Mas is Spain’s best hope in the 2022 Tour, and marks a new chapter for Movistar with longtime captain Alejandro Valverde skipping the Tour in his final season.

All the focus is on Mas, and the team will try to move up into the upper echelon of the peloton this year.

“In terms of confidence, I am 10 for 10,” Mas said. “The form was very good at the Dauphiné, and we had some bad luck with the crash. We’ve been doing all the work, and we bring the strongest team to Copenhagen possible.”

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Like all the GC favorites, the first week will prove decisive in his aspirations.

“It’s a complicated first week, with the time trial and maybe some rain, plus two more dangerous stages in Denmark,” he said. “With the team we have here we hope to get through it pretty well. We’ll be praying that the luck stays on our side.

“The cobbles stage we’ve seen two or three times, because it’s a new type of racing for me,” Mas said. “There could be time differences that could be equal to a mountain stage, so I am motivated for that day.”

The team rallies completely around Mas, and he comes to the Tour as the team’s sole leader.

After years of have multiple cards to play with various GC captains, Movistar is putting everything on Mas. This year, there is no three-way poker, with a rider like Nairo Quintana or Mikel Landa sharing the spotlight.

“Being the lone leader means I will have one extra rider to help me,” he said. “Tadej is the favorite and he’s demonstrated he’s at the top level. There are other riders who are at a top level, and we have to try to take advantage of any opening we can get.”

With Valverde retiring at the end of the season and others like Alberto Contador already retired, many are looking to Mas to emerge as Spain’s big star.

Some are hoping to see him race more aggressively and to deliver the kind of racing that Spanish fans so much adore.

“The fans are waiting for a big attack from me, but that depends if I need to attack or not. Sometimes it’s not so easy, and it depends a bit on the situation,” Mas said. “Just to attack to please the fans or just to do it to make someone happy doesn’t make sense. Our objectives are to have a good result, and if I haven’t done a big attack like that, it also could be because I couldn’t do it.”

After finishing fifth in the 2020 Tour and sixth last year, Mas is hoping to take the next step and arrive to the podium in Paris.