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Spain’s lone WorldTour team is fighting to conserve its WorldTour status going into 2023, and Mas’s consistency across the Vuelta will only help.
Now third overall at the Vuelta, Mas said the team’s riders are not obsessing about the controversial points race that’s coming down to wire. Five five teams are all within relegation range with about six weeks left of racing in 2022.
“Between the riders we never speak about it,” Mas said Monday. “We do notice who’s winning and how things are going. What we have to do is have a good Vuelta, and fight to be on the podium or perhaps even win it.
“As far as the points are concerned, the points will come with the results,” Mas said. “We also have riders like Cortina, Aranburu who can earn important points this week in Canada.”
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Mas, who was twice second in the Vuelta, is still hoping to go one better. Remco Evenepoel is stubbornly defending red, while Primož Roglič continues to hold onto second.
“Right now I am only thinking about moving up on GC,” Mas said. “My rivals are also thinking the same thing. Let’s see what Eusebio Unzué tells us this week.”
Mas is encouraged by his performances on the climbs this weekend, especially on Sunday’s summit at Sierra Nevada where he was second on the stage and gapped out both Evenepoel and Roglič.
“Remco has it right in front of him. We’ve been able to take a minute out of him in the past two days,” Mas said. “We can dream of taking back even more on days like Wednesday or Thursday [in Extramadura]. Or maybe he takes a minute on us, you never know. I am feeling good and I’m motivated.”
Israel Premier Tech laments ‘bad luck’ at Vuelta
Another team struggling for its WorldTour future is Israel-Premier Tech.
Based on the current UCI points rankings, the team could be one of the squads which is “relegated” to the second division. The final tabulation will be made once the season ends in October.
Óscar Guerrero, one of the team’s sport directors at the Vuelta, told the Spanish daily AS that it vows to go down swinging.
“The situation is very complicated,” Guerrero told AS. “There’s not a lot of room for error, but we will keep fighting until the end.”
The team hasn’t won a stage during the Vuelta, with Daryl Impey coming close with second in stage 5 in Bilbao. Race leader Michael Woods crashed out and Carl Fredrik Hagen also crashed out of the top-10, but continues in the race.
“We’ve had some bad luck,” he said. “We came with Woods as our leader, but he crashed out in The Netherlands. Carl Fredrik Hagen, another one of our leaders, had a bad crash and even though he’s still in the race, he’s bothered by it.
“Froome, who had a good level at the Tour, got COVID and he’s not going as he would like,” Guerrero said.