Enric Mas shines in the Dutch rain
Quick-Step Floors took a solid third on the first race of Hammer Limburg.
On a day that presented itself like a painting of the Dutch Masters, with black ominous clouds and lashing rain, Enric Mas put in an amazing ride which netted Quick-Step Floors' first ever podium in the Hammer Series, after what's been arguably one of the toughest races of the year, with a total of 22 ascents jammed between the start and the finish of the 77km-long Hammer Climb, a crazy fast pace and a plethora of attacks from kilometer zero.
First to bag in points for our team was Ecuadorian Champion Jhonatan Narvaez, followed by fellow neo-pro Kasper Asgreen, who held off more experienced riders on the third lap to score double points and move Quick-Step Floors on the podium. Unfortunately, the young Dane crashed on a slippery bend and lost contact with the main group, where Quick-Step Floors remained represented by Enric Mas.
Halfway through this race of attrition, Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida) and Pavel Sivakov (Team Sky) attacked, opening a 30-second gap on the chasing group. Sensing not everyone was fully committed, Mas forged clear on the last climb of the seventh climb and set off in pursuit of the two. The Arrate winner caught and passed Sivakov, who got dropped by Padun with 15 kilometers to go, and scored valuable points for Quick-Step Floors, which could weigh heavily at the end of the three-day event.
Despite being caught inside the last seven kilometers of the Hammer Climb, Enric Mas' effort was enough to secure a well-deserved third place for our squad in the overall classification ahead of the Hammer Sprint, scheduled Saturday afternoon.
"We had a strategy and it worked out pretty well until Kasper crashed. At that point, together with Tom Steels, we decided to change our tactic and anticipate a bit; the plan was to get as many points as possible, so I attacked from the main group and did just that", Enric said at the end of the race. "The tempo was super hard and I arrived tired on the last lap, where I couldn't fight for more points, but we finished in the top 3, which was our goal, so it was a good day. This gives us even more motivation for tomorrow, when we'll try to be again up there."
Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen/ Getty Images