Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) gained huge chunks of time when the Vuelta a España visited Pau, France for its stage 10 time trial on Tuesday. His rivals, though, vow to fight him in the mountainous stages ahead.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar), team-mate Alejandro Valverde, and Miguel Ángel López (Astana) are taking aim at the many summit finishes to shake the Slovenian now in the red leader's jersey.
"We will attack Roglič anyway, Alejandro Valverde and I are close and we have to play with that," 2016 Vuelta winner Quintana said.
"I have nothing to lose, we must take advantage of every opportunity from here on out and enjoy the race."
Quintana lost 3-06 minutes to Roglič today and slipped out of the lead to fourth place. Valverde sits second overall at 1-52 back.
"It was not my best time. I expected a loss of two or two and a half minutes," Quintana continued. "But I still feel good and there will be chances to attack in the Vuelta's stages to come."
"We still have a lot of racing ahead of us," Valverde said. "The two of us are going to do the best we can for Movistar, and that's it. We are still in the fight. There is a lot racing ahead of us. We'll keep fighting."
Roglič blasted over the 36.2 kilometres to Pau's Verdun Square to beat Patrick Bevin (CCC Team) in the hot seat. He averaged 46.13kph.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), only 20 years old, was the best off the classification contenders behind Roglič. He now sits fifth overall. Colombian Miguel Ángel López lost two minutes but maintained third place.
"My intention was to lose less than two minutes, and in the end it wasn't possible because Roglič overtook me on the finish line," López said.
"Regardless of this, I'm content because I'm still in the mix for GC and there is a lot of racing left."
Stage 11 takes the Vuelta back to its home country and suits escape hopefuls. Stage 12 to Bilbao also should see an escape or small group sprint.
Los Machucos punctuates the finish of stage 13. It climbs to finish at 872 metres and should offer Quintana or any of Roglič's rivals a chance to shake the race's hierarchy.
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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