Enric Mas spent barely a month after withdrawing from the Tour de France gripped by panic at the descents with the smile shown at the start of the Tour in Utrecht. His own attitude, colleagues like Alejandro Valverde and the help of a psychologist and an expert in descents led to a very complex situation.
A whole story of overcoming transformed the Spanish cyclist in record time, who finished off the 2022 season with victories and trying one on one against Tadej Pogacar himself. A cyclist renewed after a process that the TVE journalist Josué Elena tells in detail in the documentary he signs entitled "El clic, reboot of a champion": the story of how Enric Mas overcame his fears.
The author of the documentary, who lived "un situ" the entire process of the Mas crisis, goes back to the eighteenth stage of Hautacam of the 2022 Tour, where a whole process of fear emerges in the form of "forgiveness", of trying on the part of of the cyclist to justify a performance that he did not expect. A distress call that came to fruition that day after losing 7 minutes at the finish line and dropping to eleventh place overall.
But he was honest that day: "Since the fall in Dauphiné I feel an internal fear on the descents," he said then. Later, in Mallorca and before the TVE cameras, he recalled that "every descent was an ordeal. I don't remember anything about that Tour."
Yes, Juan Carlos Escámez, his masseur at Movistar, remembers it, who assures that "Mas went down the ports like a trailer, totally blocked, without even being able to follow a colleague", a point of view shared by Alejandro Valverde, who also went through a trance similar to that of his then classmate.
"It happened to me in 2012, I had a bad time, I was also scared going downhill, and with the car, on the highways, I would get dizzy, I couldn't drive because of my mental block. When I saw Enric on the Tour I knew that he The same thing happened to me. As I experienced it, I was able to advise him", explains Valverde, who sought the help of a psychologist first and then a psychiatrist.
Enric Mas, 3 times second in the Vuelta, the last one in 2022, tells in the documentary the turning point to solve his problem. The cyclist went to his town, Artá, surrounded himself with his family and friends and forgot about the bike for a few days. There were 28 days left for the start of the Vuelta. A time trial began.
With the support of his entourage, including the director of Movistar Eusebio Unzué, Mas put himself in the hands of a psychologist, Jaume Mas, "a boy from Mallorca who is an expert in sports psychology with whom I shared a desk at school and institute and of whom he had good references", says Mas in the documentary.
Jaume immediately marked with Enric the method to follow: "You had to detect the thoughts that you had in your head, normalize the situation and change your behavior", a scheduled process.
Another key step for the recovery of Enric Mas was the relationship with Óscar Saiz, ex-biker, sports coach and expert in downhills of any type of cycling. "You can get out of the pothole in four days," he assures the TVE camera. "But it's one thing to swim and quite another to float," he warns.
"Enric contacted me in a moment of trouble, he had anxiety, the problem was serious, but it could be solved. The runner had lost confidence due to the falls," explains Óscar Saiz, who surprises by assuring that "the problem can be solved in 4 and 6 days".
Said and done, with simple descent techniques, Mas underwent "a fresh start", with routines more typical of those who start riding a bike and not of an elite athlete." I had to start from scratch, but from zero, zero" says Enric Mas.
"From hell to tranquility", could be another title for the documentary recorded this winter between Sierra Nevada, Mallorca and Barcelona, "The click, restart of a champion", concludes with the happiness of Enric Mas on the bicycle. He was not only second in the Vuelta, he won the Giro de Emilia, but he was second in Il Lombardía in a duel with Pogacar.
A story that speaks of anxiety, of invisible enemies, of honesty, of overcoming. How mental health, also in an elite athlete, can condition everything.