Movistar have confirmed the long expected signing of Enric Mas from Deceuninck-Quick-Step.
The Spaniard has signed a three-year contract with his home team and will be the focal point for Grand Tours from 2020 onwards.
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Just 24, Mas impressed at the Vuelta a España last year where he finished second overall behind Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and took a stage win on the penultimate day.
More impressively, he operated with little support in the mountains with his Deceuninck-Quick-Step team not entirely suited to supporting an overall contender.
Because of that, and Mas’ desire to win the Tour de France, a move to a team with stronger support in the mountains has been widely expected.
Movistar have had a substantial clear out of their Grand Tour leaders for next season, making way for Mas’ arrival.
Mikel Landa is moving to Bahrain-Merida and Nairo Quintana is expected to move to Franch team Arkéa-Samsic. Their last Grand Tour winner Richard Carapaz, who won the Giro d’Italia in June, should to be announced as a Team Ineos rider for next year. World champion Alejandro Valverde remains, having signed a new contract earlier this season.
Mas had a difficult debut at the Tour de France this year. While his Deceuninck-Quick-Step team excelled – with Elia Viviani winning a stage and Julian Alaphilippe winning two stages, holding the yellow jersey for 14 days and finishing fifth overall – Mas struggled to make an impact after fading early in the Pyrenean stages in the second week.
He was able to recover and help Julian Alaphilippe in the closing Alpine stage, staying with the Frenchman after he was dropped by the group containing race leader and eventual winner Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) on the climb to Val Thorens.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step have chosen to go all-in on Alaphilippe for the coming years, handing him a contract extension this year. That has left little room on a tight budget for the likes of Viviani, who will move to Cofidis, Philippe Gilbert, who could move to Lotto-Soudal, and now Mas who will join Movistar from next season.