Penultimate race of the year for the Spaniard, who came close to cracking the top 10 in a Monument for the first time.
Three days after putting in a spirited ride at the 100th Milano-Torino, Enric Mas found himself again among the protagonists, this time at one of the most prestigious races on the calendar, Il Lombardia, which rolled out from Bergamo and journeyed to Como, over a 243km-long course peppered by six climbs, the last of these – San Fermo della Battaglia – topping with under six kilometers to go.
As a matter of fact, the entire Deceuninck – Quick-Step team was in aggressive mode on Saturday and tried to shape the race, in the beginning with Rémi Cavagna, who booked a place in the eight-rider breakaway that established a maximum advantage of over five minutes, and later linked up with Bob Jungels, giving the Luxembourger a hand inside the final 60 kilometers.
Winner of the 2018 Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Jungels attacked close to the top of the iconic Madonna del Ghisallo, opening a nice gap over the bunch and joining Cavagna on the tricky descent, where the Frenchman paced him until the lower slopes of the Colma di Sormano. There, Bob took off and caught the last survivors of the escapee one by one, but on the viciously steep gradients of the Muro di Sormano – a climb which debuted at the race in 1960 – he was reeled in by the bunch, from where attacks came thick and fast.
Enric Mas looked very comfortable there and got out of the saddle when Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) put in a surge, reducing the group. The 24-year-old Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider was one of the few to climb with ease as the ramps reached 27% and more and more got dropped. A few kilometers later, Civiglio further reduced the favourites’ group, and it was on its slopes that what eventually proved to be the winning move was launched.
Riding his fourth Monument in two years, Mas remained with the main group, and even breathed life into the chase, before losing contact on San Fermo della Battaglia, inside six kilometers to go. Making his penultimate appearance for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, the 24-year-old gritted his teeth and continued to pound the pedals as the pace intensified, bridging to a strong group that came home less than a minute behind winner Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo).
At the end of the day, after six tough and relentless hours in the saddle, Enric concluded the final Monument of 2019 just outside the top 10, in 13th position, another strong result posted by last year’s Vuelta a España runner-up, who next week will pin a number on his Deceuninck – Quick-Step jersey for the last time, at the Tour of Guangxi.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images