Movistar’s Enric Mas managed to keep his eighth place overall on stage 17 of the Tour de France, which ended on Wednesday at the Col de la Loze.
The Spanish climber is now looking forward to making an attempt on Thursday, the final day of the race in the Alps, to make a move on stage 18 and says Wednesday’s stage winner Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) has proven that race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and runner-up Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) “are not unbeatable”.
Mas broke into the top 10 for the first time during this year’s Tour, after finishing at the top of stage 13 on the Puy Mary last week. He took fifth place on Sunday on stage 15, which finished at the Grand Colombier, taking him to eighth in the general classification, which he has defended ever since.
“I will not deny that I am happy with my performance, but it is true that I would have liked to finish a little closer to the top contenders because I felt great until the last three kilometers,” said Mas.
Mas finished sixth on the Col de la Loze in Stage 17 and is still one place behind Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) overall, although he was able to retreat eight seconds to his Spanish countryman and now 51 seconds away is off Landa’s seventh place. .
Ninth Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) doesn’t appear to be too much of a threat, more than three minutes ago, although the Dutchman will likely make up quite some time on Saturday’s individual time trial to La Planche des. Belles Filles, and will start as one of the favorites for the stage victory.
“Maybe the height also took its toll, but it’s just because of the stronger rivals”, Mas of the 2,302 meter high Col de la Loze admitted.
“The pace throughout the Tour always pays off at finishes like this. It’s been a brutal race, and all that wear and tear as we enter the third week is naturally creating these gaps.
“We finished one by one and everyone was exhausted. In our case, as a team, we made steady progress throughout the race. Our preparations were focused on reaching our top condition in this stage of the Tour, and so here we are. .
“Three or four weeks ago we were at the Dauphiné, and we didn’t think we would be in eighth place overall here, close to the top five,” said Mas, finishing the pace in 20th place overall in preparation for the Tour. race last month.
“Let’s keep pushing. There’s another great stage that could see more time gaps tomorrow, and Lopez has shown that the Slovenes are not unbeatable,” said the 25-year-old, looking ahead to Thursday’s 18th stage, referring to to Lopez who had been. Be able to beat Slovenians Roglic and Pogacar on Wednesday.
“Tomorrow will be another crucial day.”
Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde, meanwhile, finished 12th on the stage to the Col de la Loze and entered the top 10 for the first time in this year’s race.
The 40-year-old could still match his ninth place overall on last year’s Tour, although it is unlikely that he will match his best Tour finish of third at the 2015 race.
Movistar’s team lost time, but managed to keep the lead in the team classification on Wednesday, with a buffer of 30 minutes back for Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma squad.