Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) "sprinkles pepper in his interviews" which is not a bad thing, according to Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
This morning in Bologna ahead of stage two, Nibali responded to the pair's back and forth that has been taking place over the last couple of days.
"We are all in form and ready," Nibali said. "And then a little bit of pepper in the interviews is never a bad thing.
"I'm not offended by this and it's a pleasure to know that there's a leader like that, motivated and a reference point in the group."
Yates, who was explaining that he is in good form, said on Friday that he would be "sh**ting myself" if he were his rivals. On hearing that, Nibali warned Yates to "show some respect".
The Brit then went on to say after stage one: "I respect all of my rivals greatly, I didn't mean to disrespect anybody". Yates finished second to Primož Roglič in stage one's opening time trial.
When asked whether he'd spoken to Nibali at the start of today's stage, Yates said: "Why do I need to catch up with him? I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. And if he's taken it that way, then it is what it is."
"For sure, it was ironic [Yates original comment], yeah," Nibali continued today.
"You also have to see how the newspapers reported and amplified it, to the biggest factor. And so that's normal. And it's normal that everyone has ability to say what he wants."
Nibali appeared to blow it off only hours after saying "we've all got to show some respect." He pulled out the "pepe nelle interviste" (pepper in interviews) phrase which brought smiles to those around listening to the Italian speak.
"Maybe it's over the top. I tried to always not go over the top and say too much," Nibali said. "We've seen things like this in other sports, like F1, we've seen things like this and maybe even worse."
Yates is seeking revenge in the Giro d'Italia 2019. Last year, he slipped out of the lead with two days left to race. He returned later in the year to win the Vuelta a España, but the Giro remains a goal.
Nibali has already won the Giro d'Italia twice in 2013 and 2016 and this will be his last Giro with Team Bahrain-Merida before he switches to Trek-Segafredo for 2020.
When asked whether the Italian could remember times when he peppered his answers in interviews, Nibali said: "Maybe so maybe so, but now standing here I can't quite remember a time, but it's difficult that I would give a response so directly like that.
"I would say that's not my style but maybe I would come and say something like that afterwards."
Vincenzo Nibali currently sits in third place in the Giro d'Italia 2019, four seconds behind Simon Yates, with Primož Roglič a further 19 seconds ahead after stage one's 8.2km time trial.
Thank you for reading 20 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