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Enric Mas wants to go one better in his first season as outright leader of Movistar next year.
Mas was the one rider able to come close to a red-hot Primož Roglič at this year’s Vuelta a España. The Mallorcan claimed second overall behind a near-untouchable Roglič this summer, saving Movistar’s blushes after the high-profile exit Miguel Ángel López.
Next year, there will be no questions over leadership and one main mission – the maillot rojo.
“I want to win this Vuelta, it is one of my goals,” Mas told Spanish outlet AS after the presentation of 2022’s route Thursday.
“I have good memories of the last edition, but I can only admit that Primož Roglič was superior. That is why I am working this winter to improve and be able to have the level as to aspire to victory.”
- Mas goes ‘elbow-to-elbow’ with Roglič in race for red jersey
- López leaves Movistar man-down with high-profile Vuelta exit
Vuelta director Javier Guillén unveiled a typically climb-riddled route for next year’s race Thursday. Seven summit finishes, a mid-race ITT and an eye-watering Asturian double-header stud a course favoring those fast uphill.
“It is too early to do an analysis of the course because I have seen everything very quickly, but I think it is a fun Vuelta for the spectator and hard for us,” Mas said.
The 2022 season will see Mas firmly in the captain’s chair for the first time in his tenure at Movistar. He played tag-team with an ageless Alejandro Valverde in 2020, and had López for company this year.
With López out of the frame in 2022 after making a hasty return to Team Astana, and Valverde finally calling time on his GC ambitions, the soon-to-be 28-year-old Mas will be center stage in what he said would be “an important year.”
So with a clear run at leadership and the momentum of four top-six finishes in his past four grand tours, Mas can ready himself for the Vuelta’s red jersey right now, surely?
Mas isn’t counting his winnings just yet.
A windy start in the Netherlands and a 20th stage in the ambush-territory that saw Fabio Aru undo Tom Dumoulin in 2015 makes the 2022 Vuelta one riddled with traps.
“We know that the terrain at the end of the race can draw differences, and we all have in mind what happened in 2015 with Aru, the turnaround that the classification took,” Mas said. “In any case, making assumptions where everything is going to be decided is worth nothing. We already know that any stage can be decisive. ”