«When you try the yellow jersey once, you want to try it again». Addictive. The attraction of success. Julian Alaphilippe he will hold on to the leadership as much as he can. Obligated. France is waiting for you. They do not ask him to win the race, but he does wear the yellow jersey as many days as possible. And that mission, of rebound, begins to weigh on the shoulders of the debutante Enric Mas, companion of the French in the Belgian set Deceuninck. The Balearic, located in the 11th position of the general and second in the last Tour of Spain, is one of those numbers that seem to have secured a gap in the future. But now, present time, in France they ask him to sacrifice himself for Alaphilippe. And he, Mas, assumes his role. "We knew we were going to work to recover the yellow jersey," he repeated. At the start, the leader was Giulio Ciccone with 6 seconds of income on Alaphilippe, who today, July 14, French national holiday, dresses again the yellow jersey. The color of the Tour flag.
The pressure on Mas does not stop. The chronicle of the newspaper L'Equipe of the stage of The Planche des Belles Filles asked for the sacrifice of the Mallorcan runner. That day Alaphilippe gave the lead for 6 seconds. Ciccone, second on the top after Teuns, made the escape profitable. Deceuninck manager Patrick Lefevere acknowledged that his team had made a mistake. They left the escapees too long and relied too much on the final reaction of the squads with candidates for the podium. But only Mikel Landa it moved. The fight between the others was reduced to the final 500 meters. There, Alaphilippe attacked, but it was too late. L'Equipe does not understand that Mas is dedicated to defend his eleventh place in the general instead of protecting his French teammate. That message was repeated yesterday by the announcers of the French television during the retransmission of the eighth stage.
«I feel better than I expected», says Alaphilippe, that does not renounce anything, although it is aware of its limits in the high mountains. Every morning, a platoon of cameras come to look for him. To get off the bus, Enric Mas He has to get around that swarm. «I'm enjoying the Tour. He is very nervous. And it goes at a crazy speed, but I'm enjoying it, "he says. From the first day he insists that his goal is "to get experience". "More than fighting for the podium, I think of being among the top ten", he sets himself a goal in his baptism at the Grande Boucle. He is still 24 years old and has already been second in the Vuelta a España of 2018.
That place on the podium serves as a reference. In the Vuelta he had a hard time during the first week. He was sick. He even thought about the withdrawal. He spent the rest day in bed, with fever. And he recovered. He finished the race in full, with a stage win in Andorra and with the confirmation that he is a cyclist for three weeks races. He has begun to fulfill the prophecy that Alberto Contador dictated about him: "Enric is my heir". At his age, 24 years old, he won the first Tour in Madrid.
Enric Mas pedals on his own path. Discover the Grande Boucle. Amidst the bustle generated by Alaphilippe, the Balearic speaks calmly. "We have the whole Tour pulling. The team needs to rest. There is a lot of race left and we can not take responsibility every day, "he advised yesterday at the start, but having the lead again will force them to wear down even more. They are the servitudes of the yellow jersey. The voice of Mas, so soft, was swallowed by the crowd that harangued Alaphilippe, a spectacular cyclist, number one in the world and French idol. "I will do everything I can to recover the yellow jersey," promised the Gaul at the start. He fulfilled and he got it. You will have Mas at your service.