Sitting eighth overall, Irishman Nicolas Roche is currently the best-placed Anglophone and is on course to record his highest ever Grand Tour finish.
Blinking in the Spanish sunshine after finishing in the first peloton on the road to Vilanova i la Geltru, the 26 year old remarked on the difficulty of the stage after the race's first rest day: "It's always hard for everyone: I think there's been more harm than rest."
In a scorching Vuelta, even by its own standards, the Irishman has kept a cool head. "It's been very hot since the start of the Tour of Spain. I've gone pretty well, for my sake anyway. I came here with ambitions to be around tenth, twelfth place, so I'm on schedule."
However, the Ag2r-La Mondiale leader knows thats that the decisive racing will come from here on in.
"Nothing's done, the hardest stages are still to come and tomorrow I'll know a little bit more how I can climb on those long climbs; the short ones are the ones that suit me better.
"It's a completely different way of climbing, so I'll see how I go. Straight away, I'll have a better idea of whether I can keep a top 10 or eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth [his finishing position in the 2008 Vuelta, and previous Grand Tour best], whatever."
Five weeks ago, Roche finished 15th overall in the Tour de France, also having a significant spat with teammate John Gadret after the latter refused to give him a wheel after a puncture at a decisive moment.
When asked how much the race took out of him, Roche smiled and said: "It took too much out of me, but I had a good month of August, stayed focus and I'm happy I was able to manage this one."
Related linksImanol Erviti takes the stage as Saxo Bank self-destruct
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
20 year-old sprints to clean sweep at British Track Champs
Emma Finucane wins two titles on the closing day of the championships
By Vern Pitt • Published
Marius Mayrhofer pulls off surprise win at Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
DSM rider breaks down with emotion after he crosses the finish line
By Stephen Puddicombe • Published