La Vuelta – “I drew conclusions but I keep them”: Mas and Roglic did not abdicate

La Vuelta - "I drew conclusions but I keep them": Mas and Roglic did not abdicate
In its 2022 version, Penas Blancas has achieved a feat: that of creating less of a gap than in 2013 even though nine years ago, the leaders had separated by handfuls of seconds. The final ascent of the 12th stage allowed Richard Carapaz to save his Vuelta but not Enric Mas or Primoz Roglic to begin to make up part of their already significant delay on Remco Evenepoel. Yet both of them rolled their men, even for a few hectometres. A way to show that the Tour of Spain is still long and that they have not given up?

This year’s route is unique in that it only very late gives pride of place to real mountain stages. The massifs of the peninsula do not always allow it but in 2022, we will have to wait for the 18th stage towards the Alto de Piornal and especially the 20th towards the Puerto de Navacerrada. The two Sierras, La Pandera then Nevada, will have been there this weekend and like this Thursday towards Penas Blancas, we will expect a hill climb, or almost. Not necessarily the ideal ground to shake a Remco Evenepoel who, even with a fall, was not put in difficulty.

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Evenepoel not worried after his fall

I asked Remco how he was after the crash and he told me he had nothing, he slipped and that was itsays the 3rd in the general classification, Enric Mas. We know he’s tough and he didn’t show any weaknesses, although it’s true that the pass wasn’t very tough either.“The Belgian was also not overly worried after tasting the bitumen just over 50 kilometers from the finish.”It’s just my leg but I think it’s ok, my bike is in much worse shape than mehe smiled after the finish. It was a super slippery corner. The bikes were also slipping and slowing down so I wanted to cut the corner, but it was a bit too much.”

A red jersey on the ground: Fall without consequence for Evenepoel?

Without apparent seriousness, the fall would perhaps have more important consequences later, did we think? It has not happened. It must be said that the opponents did not try much, except to ask teammates, like Rohan Dennis for Primoz Roglic, to ride at the head of the group of favorites. “We wanted to toughen up the race a bit. We’re a bit behind so we have to try to come back“, said the Slovenian on arrival. Does he feel stronger as the days go by? “We will see but yes. We’ll see, we’ll take it step by step but I can still improve. ” The reversal operation must however start quickly, unless you count on a day without for the red jersey.

Except for the fall, it was the scenario we wanted.”

Enric Mas took the lead in the day’s climb. Without really hurting but this little boost was not useless according to him: “We said in the briefing that we had to put our own guys in the breakaway and test our rivals. I made my conclusions but I will not tell you. We are going to project ourselves on the next steps, especially on the end of the week which is really very hard.”

The profile of the 15th stage: Arrival at 2512 meters above sea level, roof of the Vuelta

Will we have to wait until next week, therefore, to see Mas, Roglic or the others take all the risks? Maybe. After all, the real questions around Remco Evenepoel focus precisely on his ability to last three weeks even though he has never been in the race for so long since the start of his career. The Belgian, he is moving forward quietly, and will investigate his 7th day after the red jersey on his back. “I felt good on the climb. I knew it was a climb where I had to follow and in the last hectometres, I gave it my all because I felt I still had a little left. I felt good, that’s the important thing.” And to conclude: “Except for the fall, that was the scenario we wanted.”

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