Tour de Suisse: Mas moves into the green jersey
Ahead of the final weekend, the talented Spaniard leads the best young rider classification.
Top 10 at the prestigious Vuelta al Pais Vasco two months ago, Enric Mas is close to replicate that performance at the Tour de Suisse, where with only two days to go he sits in fourth overall after being one of the most consistent riders in the mountains. Runner-up atop Leukerbad, on Wednesday, the Quick-Step Floors second-year pro was now one of the best riders on the gargantuan climb to Arosa, where the race imploded with 26 kilometers to go.
It was there that Nairo Quintana (Movistar) surged clear and began building a gap on the peloton while at the same time catching, one by one, the riders who had been part of a mammoth 29-man group which contained also two-time Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Yves Lampaert. That breakaway had formed not long after the bunch rolled out from Eschenbach, a town located just a stone's throw from the Reichenbach Falls, the setting of one of the most famous clashes in fiction, between Sherlock Holmes and arch-rival Professor Moriarty.
The Colombian's attack led to a major selection in the chasing group, where only a handful of riders could match the pace, including Quick-Step Floors' Enric Mas, who beautifully danced on the pedals on the hard gradients of Arosa, which took the toll on most of the riders. On the steeper section of the climb, Quintana accelerated again and went on the claim the victory, 22 seconds clear of Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Richie Porte (BMC), who rounded out the podium.
Mas' show of strength and guts netted him sixth on the day, as the Spaniard continues to lie just one second shy off the podium with just two stages left on the menu, a pan-flat one and a 34km individual time trial.
"We rode full gas from the start, because in the breakaway there were some riders who posed a threat to the yellow jersey, so at one point we were averaging more than 50km/h on the flat, which was just crazy", said Enric Mas, the new best young rider of the Tour de Suisse. "The tempo was high also in the final and I missed a bit when Porte attacked, but nevertheless, I am content with my ride. It's always nice to have this jersey in a race, and it would be really great to finish in the top 5 on Sunday. It all depends on the time trial, so we'll just have to be patient and see what that stage brings."
Photo credit: ©Heinz Zwicky/ Getty Images