2018 Best Moments: Enric Mas’ brilliant runner-up spot at Vuelta a España
Quick-Step Floors have enjoyed a record-breaking year, with 73 UCI wins scored by 14 riders in 22 countries. Over the next weeks we will look back on the 10 biggest moments for the team, one of which was our 23-year-old's astonishing result in just his second Grand Tour.
Enric Mas delivered a scintillating performance at the 73rd Vuelta a España, the outstanding second place he notched up in the general classification after 21 arduous stages speaking volumes of the potential and determination he possesses, but also of his knack to thrive under pressure and inimitable panache, all attributes of a champion in the making.
The season's final Grand Tour represented Enric's first foray into riding for the GC at a three-week race, and after a rather quiet first half of the race, in which he had to overcome illness and fever, Quick-Step Floors' prodigy began a rapid and spirited rise in the standings, which catapulted him from twelfth to second in the space of a week during which the peloton traveled through Cantabria, the Basque Country and Andorra, taking on some of the Iberian Peninsula's most grueling climbs.
Riding well beyond his years and taking initiative in the final days of the race netted Enric not just the most important win of his career on the hardest mountain stage of his home Grand Tour (that concluded atop Coll de la Gallina), but also an outstanding second place in the general classification, which served as confirmation of the talent that had brought him into Quick-Step Floors' attention years ago, when he began his rise through the ranks.
"At the start of the race, I was hoping of finishing in the top 10 overall, but it was only after the penultimate weekend that I began thinking I could move into the top five or even onto the podium. Helped by a great Quick-Step Floors team, I took it day by day in this race – which proved to be a hard-fought battle – and continued to rise in the overall standings."
"Second and best young rider it's something I wouldn't have dreamed of at the start of the race, but arriving in Madrid having achieved this made me extremely happy and proud. I've made many sacrifices, worked hard since last winter and spent a lot of time away from home, but it all paid off in September. I know people will expect more from me now, but I still need to improve and see what my limits are. It's a long process, but I find myself in a great team, which supports and has confidence in me, and this augurs really well for the future", said Enric, the first rider from the Balearic Islands in over four decades to claim a stage win at the Vuelta a España and the first in 70 years to finish onto the overall podium.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images