Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) still climbed on the podium after Giro d'Italia's stage 13 to Cividale del Friuli but only to pull on the best young rider's white jersey after he lost the leader's pink jersey to Andrey Amador (Movistar).
After three special days in the pink jersey, the 23-year-old Luxembourg rider was disappointed with the consolation prize of the white jersey, and even a little angry to have lost the pink jersey by so little. Despite the four steep climbs on the stage in the Friuli mountains, Jungels lost only 50 seconds to Amador and the big name overall contenders, slipping to second overall at 26 seconds.
Sitting ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) after 13 stages of hard racing was of little consolation after losing the golden fleece of the Corsa Rosa.
"I knew it would be a hard day today and it was," Jungels said in the mixed zone next to the podium area, the lipstick from the podium ceremony still fresh on his cheeks.
"I think we all suffered through the day but the team did an awesome job until the Astana team upped the pace on the second last climb. I was able to follow but suffered a lot and then on the last climb I wasn't able to follow anymore. But we fought to the end and that's our style of riding."
"I'd be lying if there was no feeling of disappointment but things could be worse than going from first to second and still being in the white jersey. I'm really happy and proud to be part of this. As a first experience of the GC in a Grand Tour, this isn't too bad and wearing the pink jersey is the biggest moment so far in my cycling career."
Jungels now faces a race within the race in the remaining stages of the Giro d'Italia, as he fights to defend the white jersey. He leads Davide Formolo (Cannondale) by 5:49, with Sebastian Henao (Team Sky) third at a more distant 13:31.
"Davide is real good climber and I have quite a good gap but he's a contender, it's going to be a nice fight with him until Turin," Jungels predicted. "There's a few more challenges for me in the rest of the race despite losing the pink jersey."
A future Grand Tour rouleur
Jungels is arguably the biggest revelation so far in the 2016 Giro d'Italia. He has shown his wide range of cycling talents on different occasions during his career but confirmed that he has the potential to be a Grand Tour rider in the future. He completed the Tour de France for the first time in 2015, finishing an impressive 27th after also taking sixth in the Tour de Suisse.
Jungels seems to be a Grand Tour rouleur, who can gain time on his rivals in time trials and then defend his lead on the climbs.
"I've seen in the last two year's that I've been good in the final week of racing in a Grand Tour, that's why I decided to come here and go for the GC. Now in the future maybe I could stay longer in pink," he revealed.
"I might have surprised some people, some rival teams and some of my rivals in the peloton. You could see that they didn't know where to put me, they tried to drop me but I fought hard. There's always a new generation coming through in cycling and I hope to be part of this next one. That's my goal."
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