Overall leader at the Vuelta a Espana, Remco Evenepoel, discussed the chess match between those vying for the general classification (GC) title as he holds the lead through 15 stages.
On Sunday for the 15th stage, Belgium's Evenepoel finished 10th, 11 seconds behind his top GC rival Slovenian Primoz Roglic, while Spain's Enric Mas also cut into the lead.
Evenepoel will carry the red jersey and a one-minute-34-second lead into the 16th stage on Tuesday, and when speaking to the media he dove into the strategy of a grand tour (GT).
"Roglic and Mas are both going very well," he said. "Roglic was the strongest of all the GC guys on Saturday, Mas was very strong [on Sunday].
"When Mas attacked I also knew I was still quite a bit ahead of him in the GC so I didn’t want to go above my own limits, because we were already above 2000m of altitude and what we saw is they attacked, took a gap but then me keeping up my own pace didn’t really allow them to ride away.
"I was a bit scared to go above my limits, so I kept pushing my own power, and I think on such a hard stage the time loss was quite limited.
"It’s now the third week, the guy with the best legs will probably be the best in the mountain stages, but the Vuelta is far from over."
With six stages remaining, Evenepoel has a chance to become the first Belgian winner of a GT since 1978, but he says he does not feel pressured to finish the job because he did not expect to be in this position.
"I know that I can be the first winner of a GT for Belgium in a long time, but we’ve still got six days to go so I don’t want to call myself that already," he said.
"For the head it’s best to just try to stay calm and look at the races day by day, see what everyday brings. As we saw last week, a crash happens before you even know it.
"We had two big passes, unfortunately Julian had to abandon the race, I was okay but there was still some damage to my hip and muscles, so that’s why we have to see day by day.
"Never panic, even if I lose a bit of time, because if I’d have known I was in this situation before the Vuelta, I would have signed up for it, so everything that happens now is extra.
"A stage win and a top 10, top five, would be my big dream. I think we’re on the road to that."