Enric Mas posts pictures of his legs as he targets the Tour de France
With a podium finish at the Vuelta a España in only his second Grand Tour, Enric Mas regarded as the next Alberto Contador, by the man himself.
However Mas stated he would rather be the first Enric Mas, but expectations surrounding are high. This year he heads for the Tour de France for the first time and insists he'll be there to try to win it.
The 24 year old who rides for Quick-Step said "I now just take it as a joke being compared to Contador, the pressure I put on myself is the biggest of all."
Mas turned pro with Quick-Step in 2017, riding the Vuelta in his first season, and in his second claimed a memorable third place overall last year.
The Spanish cycling prodigy post a picture of his legs onto the internet saying, "Working hard to try and have the same legs as last year!".
The picture of his post Grand Tour legs caused shockwaves across social media, with people gasping at his veins.
Bob Jungels, Quick-Step's other Grand Tour general classification leader is returning to the Giro d'Italia.
Mas feels ready to lead the line at the Tour de France, and stated "There are people who say to me that I missed out a stepping stone by not going to the Giro. But I've done the Vuelta twice. I don't know if I am prepared for the Tour, but I feel prepared. Personally, I want to win it, I'm going there to get to know the race. I've never been there, so let's see what happens."
But the Quick-Step, are largely built around the Classics and, when it comes to the Grand Tours, stage wins. Mas will receive support from Viviani, Philippe Gilbert while Julian Alaphilippe will go for stage wins alongside. So Mas will head to the Tour looking to follow the wheels of Sky and Movistar
Lefevere makes no bones about this, going as far as to suggest Mas does not need team support at the Tour, "We don't have to help him this year; Sky and Movistar will help. They control the race, we stay in the wheel. If the legs are there to beat them, you beat them," he said.
You see what happens in the Tour – there is always a guy who controls the race until a couple of kilometres from the finish, then Froome tries to attack, and if he doesn't succeed then Thomas attacks. It's the same story with Movistar; they're always blocking the race. Well, the more they block the race, the better for Enric Mas."
That said, Lefevere insisted that, if Mas did end up signing a new contract, he wouldn't find himself in the same situation forever, "If he stays with me through 2021, I will try to get the riders he deserves."
The 2017 season became the first season for Mas in the World Tour. His best result came at the Vuelta a Burgos, where he finished 2nd on the final stage and therefore finished 2nd overall. He was named in the startlist for the 2017 Vuelta a España. He won the Combativity Award on stages 6 and 20 at the Vuelta a España; on the penultimate stage to Angliru, Mas was in the breakaway and helped Alberto Contador win the stage.
The 2018 season was Enric Mas' 2nd on the World Tour, and his first top 10 result came at the Tour of the Basque Country. He won the final stage to Arrate, which was his first professional victory. He moved up to 6th place in the general classification after the last stage, which meant he got his first ever top 10 world tour stage race finish; he also won the young rider classification. He continued his form, 2 months later when he placed 4th overall at the Tour de Suisse, and won the Young rider classification. He also managed to finish 2nd on stage 5 behind Diego Ulissi.
At the Vuelta a España, Mas was outside top 10 before the last two stages of the second week. He finished 7th on the Stage to Las Praeres, and moved up to 8th place. On the following Stage to the Lakes of Covadonga, he finished 6th and moved up to 6th place. On the Time trial he once again showed he had great form when he finished 6th. He moved up another place in the general classification. The race visited a new climb Balcón de Bizkaia on Stage 17. Mas was the strongest of the General classification contenders, and moved up to 3rd position overall. However he dropped to 4th place on Stage 19 which visited Naturlandia, Andorra. At the start of Stage 20, the gap between him and the 3rd placed rider Steven Kruijswijk was only 17 seconds. He attacked on the final climb together with Miguel Ángel López and Simon Yates. Mas rode together to the finish line with Lopez and outsprinted him, to take his first stage victory in a Grand Tour. With his performance on stage 20, Mas moved from 4th to 2nd place overall in the Vuelta, finishing on the podium in just his second Grand Tour.