Outstanding performance of Enric Mas in Vuelta a España ITT
The Spaniard is again the best young rider of the race, as Quick-Step Floors place three riders in the stage 16 top 10.
Week three of the season's final Grand Tour kicked off with a demanding individual time trial – just as last year – a 32km-long test against the clock on the rolling and exposed terrain of Cantabria with a few taxing uphill sections which favoured also the non-specialists on a stage that was expected by everyone to have an important impact on the race, shaking up the general classification and making the final mountain stages even more mouth-watering.
Last Quick-Step Floors rider to roll down the ramp in Santillana del Mar was Enric Mas, who put in a flying ride on his beautiful Specialized bike, producing the time trial of his career and stopping the clock in Torrelavega, a town which 43 years ago witnessed a victory of Eddy Merckx, in 39 minutes. Sixth at the end of the stage won by Rohan Dennis (BMC), the 23-year-old – a Junior National ITT Champion in 2012, in the Cantabrian town of Hoznayo – was all smiles at the finish, having gained significant chunks of time on many of the overall contenders.
"I felt very good at the start of the day, very strong also mentally, so I set out on this undulating route thinking I could pull away time from some of the riders in the top 10. I'm happy with my time trial and I hope to continue my upward trajectory on the next stages. Getting closer and closer to the podium is nice, but the plan is to continue taking it step by step and see where that leads. The important thing is that the team continues to believe in me and I will try to make the most out of every situation", said after his extraordinary ride Enric, now fifth on the general classification and again the best young rider of the race.
World Tour team classification leader Quick-Step Floors were the only outfit to have three riders in the stage 16 top 10, an impressive feat considering the startlist contained many household names of the discipline, from national champions to European Championships medalists.
Neo-pro and Grand Tour debutant Kasper Asgreen set an early benchmark and enjoyed more than one hour in the hot seat, before eventually finishing tenth, his best result at the Vuelta a España, where his main task was to keep the breakaways in check on the flat, so it would all come down to a bunch sprint for Elia Viviani. The 23-year-old Dane's spirited performance saw him finish just a few second behind teammate Laurens De Plus; recently announced on Belgium's team for both the road race and individual time trial at the World Championships in Innsbruck, De Plus posted the eighth fastest time having been followed throughout the day from the team car by his parents.
Photo credit: ©Michael Steele/ Getty Images