Enric Mas talks about how psychological fear assaulted him on the Tour's downhills and how he is rebuilding his confidence: "It was a disaster"
On the prelude to a new season, Enric Mas talks about the problems he suffered in the last Tour de France. A situation that he was able to turn around and finish the year in an exciting way with an outstanding role in the Italian classics and his meritorious podium in La Vuelta. 2023 looks like an opportunity to show his full potential.
How Enric Mas solved his problems with the downhill descents
It has not been an easy season for Movistar Team rider Enric Mas. The burden of being the reference point for his team in the Grand Tours, the lack of connection with a fan base that has been extremely critical about him and a series of crashes during the first half of the year ended up destroying his confidence during the most important race of the year, the Tour de France.
In an interview with CyclingNews, Enric Mas reviews what happened in the Tour de France and explains how he managed to turn around a critical situation to conclude the year showing a level with which you can dream of seeing him fighting one on one against the big favourites.
"It was a disaster", Enric Mas repeated several times in the aforementioned interview when referring to the Tour de France. A race in which he was in good shape but everything went wrong when the road went downhill.
"I felt as if I was riding a bike for the first time" is the descriptive phrase that Enric uses to comment on a problem that was forged with the crashes he suffered during Tirreno-Adriatico, Itzulia and, above all, the Critérium du Dauphiné. They were not very serious crashes, although they were very ugly, and they left a psychological aftertaste that detonated during the Tour de France. "I started to panic. I was afraid of every bend. Doubts creep into your head and then take over. Your head tells you you need to brake going into corners that you can just go through at 80km/h" explained Enric Mas.
That's why having to abandon because of the Covid two days before arriving in Paris was almost a liberation for Enric Mas: "By that point, the Tour was almost irrelevant to me. I wanted to finish and I was annoyed not to, but I was already thinking about the Vuelta."
Recovering the head
Barely a month after hitting rock bottom at the Tour de France, a new Enric Mas appeared at the Dutch start of La Vuelta. Few included him in the list of favourites, not even for a place in the noble zone of the classification. However, the race gave us a more offensive and motivated Enric Mas than ever, with whom he managed to recover part of the credit lost with the fans, being surpassed in the general classification only by an unbeatable Remco Evenepoel.
What had changed in that month? "After the Tour, I switched off for a few days, then I got to work. The psychologist and the descending expert, and my coach all worked hand in hand and helped me a lot" shared Enric Mas in reference to the training he did in Andorra. "Andorra is full of mountains and every time you go up, you have to go down. It was about repeating the descents, then stopping and looking at how you rode them, what you did well and what you did badly. Then go back up and do it again. When you lose confidence in yourself, you have to get it back, and a big part of that is technique - how to address the corners, how to distribute your weight..."
The psychologist also played an important role, rationalising his progress on the descent and focusing on enjoying things again. Apart from that, he had the support of his teammate José Joaquín Rojas who "tried to transmit some veteran's calm to him, above all encouraging him to take enjoyment in being on the bike", said the rider from Murcia.
The results were not long in coming and in the stages of Cantabria and Asturias that ended the first week of La Vuelta he had no problems on the downhills.
After the second place in La Vuelta, the 9th place in Coppa Agostini and the victory in the Giro dell'Emilia, fighting head to head against Tadej Pogacar: "That gives me confidence for sure. I'm on the right path. Bit by bit I'm getting closer to them and one day I hope to be on their level."