Primož Roglič has said that his Jumbo-Visma team-mate Jonas Vingegaard should not only be seen as his main helper at the Tour of the Basque Country, indicating that the Dane has every chance of winning the WorldTour race.
Following the third stage of the race won by Bahrain-Victorious' Pello Bilbao, Roglič maintains a five second lead over Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), with Vingegaard in sixth place, 19 seconds in arrears.
The latter, who was second at last year's Tour de France, was attentive in the closing kilometres of stage three, marking multiple moves to prevent any rider from breaking clear of a select group of 16 riders and ensuring that Roglič's lead was protected ahead of the final three stages.
"He doesn't need to prove how strong of a rider he is - we all know it," Roglič told Cycling Weekly afterwards.
"It was super nice that we were both of us with the best guys and we could share the work.
"He would win this race - we are the same. He is definitely super important.
"We are not the only team with two guys - there are others who have two - and we will need to have a super-strong team to win."
Stage four looks it should be a less stressful affair, especially with Friday's and Saturday's decisive stages both ending uphill. Roglič joked that "it's the Basque Country - it has to be war!"
The Slovenian admitted that he found the third stage tough, but signalled that he was prepared to attack to increase his lead rather than just defending it.
"It [today] was more about surviving," he said. "It was a super-hard stage, but I managed to finish with the best guys. I was suffering. We will see what the next days bring.
"It's super-hard racing here, and you can see that there are a lot of really super-strong guys, and when you have the legs, you need to wait to take your moment.
"To do the right move, you need to do it at the right time, and definitely when you have the time you need to attack and take the time difference."
One rider who did tried to attack on stage three was Evenepoel, but the young Belgian rued the response of his rivals.
He said: "I think they know that on a big road like that, if I have 10 metres and they don't react immediately, there might be an opportunity for me to go to the finish line.
"It's not easy: it's a WorldTour race, is the Basque Country, and everyone wants to win a stage here."
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Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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