Chris Froome (Team Sky) said that with the rain and highly technical nature of the descent from the Collado Bermejo, his best option was not to take any risks and to conserve his lead in the Vuelta a España on stage 10.
This was despite an attack by Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing Team), that netted the Irishman a 29 second gain on the Briton and Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott), tightening the battle for the overall.
However, as Froome pointed out, Wednesday's summit finish on Calar Alto, at altitude and at the end of a high mountain stage, is a new kind of challenge altogether and it is there that the next big GC battle will come.
"There's a big chance it'll rain, as well, for the final tomorrow [Wednesday], and for sure it played a big part today [Tuesday] because of the final descent, which being a little bit wet, made it more dangerous, more slippery.
"For me personally, I wasn't prepared to take any risks today, I was happy just to go down a little more easy with my teammates. I knew there was a lot of road between the bottom of the climb and the finish if we really had to do that.
"So today the tactic was to play it safe and protect the position. We're in a really good place and we didn't want to jeopardize that."
Wednesday's longer climbs, the 32-year-old said, would represent "a much harder finish. We could see a lot more aggressive racing and more changes in the general classification."
Regarding Vincenzo Nibali's attack and their subsequent conversation en route to the line after the Bahrain-Merida rider had been reeled in, Froome said "that's fine, that was his tactic, I have no problems with that. In the final, we were just talking about the situation and the tactics of the day, no problems between us."
As for the overall speed, averaging more than 46 kilometres an hour despite the final mountain climb, Froome said, "I think you'd have to ask the riders who were attacking for almost 100 kilometres, why they were going so fast today.
"I think they had a good rest day yesterday. It took almost 100 kilometres for the breakaway to form, and it was an extremely fast, stressful start with the rain today. But once the break went we controlled things at a moderate speed, it definitely wasn't us making the race fast.
"Sometimes it's not up to us to decide when [the breakaway] goes, I'd prefer it goes in the first kilometre. But that's a little bit decided by the other teams, how many guys go in the break. Tomorrow's maybe a good opportunity for us to fight for the stage victory, but we'll see."
As for Calar Alto, Froome said it represented something of a voyage in the dark for the Briton.
"I don't know it at all. I'll have to ask Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) about it, I think it's his training ground around there, so he knows the area very well. But I imagine with it being the first really high, mountain top finish, we'll see a very aggressive race towards the final and guys like Contador will want to try and make up time on some their rivals. I imagine Alberto will be very aggressive tomorrow."
Ending the post-stage press conference on a more lighthearted note and given the stage finished at the front door of one of Spain's most famous meat factories, El Pozo Alimentacion, Froome was asked what kind of Spanish food he liked, and he confessed a weakness for jamon iberico cured ham. "After the season, we have a big leg of jamon in our kitchen. It's not something I eat a lot when I racing," he revealed, "but it's one of the Spanish delicacies that I enjoy."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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