Primož Roglič says he does not worry about the form of his rivals, but instead will focus on his own condition both at the UAE Tour and in his bigger goals.
The Slovenian currently leads the Middle East stage race over riders he will encounter again at his main goal of the year, the Giro d’Italia.
But the 29-year-old says he is not focused on the competition, instead choosing to focus attentions on his own preparation.
Roglič was propelled into the leader’s jersey after his Jumbo-Visma team took victory in the 16km opening team time trial in the UAE.
Speaking after the stage, he said: “I think we have a lot of really strong guys here and they will be at the other races.
“A lot of the guys will also be at the Giro, so from my side I think it’s important to look at yourself and try to be on the best level with preparation and with yourself.
“It’s the only thing I can influence. So I don’t really bother too much with the rest of the guys.”
Roglič rode an outstanding 2018 season, with overall victories in the Tour de Romandie, Tour of the Basque Country, and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
He also won a stage of the Tour de France and finished fourth overall.
This year he is expected to ride both the Tour and the Giro, with the latter being his main target.
The inaugural UAE Tour gives him the first opportunity to race against his big rivals for the year, including Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), who will all be at the Giro.
He currently leads the seven-day race through the Emirates by seven seconds over Sunweb and Dumoulin, a narrow margin but one that could prove decisive over the coming days.
Roglič added: “The fact was that it was going to be really close. We were all quite nervous waiting for the last guys to finish.
“For me personally it was really nice to start with a win, but more importantly we showed we can ride in the team time trials and it’s a good feeling.
“Of course we have some hard stages, some hard days to come. We just have to ride with a strong team behind me day by day and we’ll see how the teams will go.”