Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) waved and smiled to the growing number of Slovenian fans at the Giro d'Italia after the finish Anterselva, apparently unconcerned about the handful of seconds he lost to race leader Richard Carapaz and the Ecuadorian's Movistar teammate Mikel Landa.
Roglic promised he would fight until the final time trial stage in Verona on Sunday, but he also had an air of resignation, revealing for the first time that he had suffered some chest pain in his crash on the descent of the Civiglio during Sunday's stage to Como.
"I still have a pain here, especially around my chest, but like with the stomach it is getting better. I can be optimistic about that," he said, admitting it was affecting his riding.
"Everything affects a little, let's say it like that. For sure it doesn't help. Of course it's not easy for anyone, it's a big fight for everyone."
After losing 19 seconds to Landa and seven seconds to Carapaz on the final climb up to the finish at Anterselva, Roglic is now 2:16 down on the Ecuadorian rider and 22 down on Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), who also suffered on the final climb and finished in Roglic's slipstream. When Landa attacked and then Carapaz did the same closer to the finish, Roglic did not move, sitting on the wheels and trying to limit his losses.
Roglic knows he has to try to survive in the final mountain stages on Friday and Saturday and then try to gain as much time as possible in Sunday's 17km time trial.
He was evasive about his chances of still winning the Giro d'Italia.
"We'll see. There's still a long way to go," he said furtively.
"Of course the days are going past, but for me the most important thing is that I'm staying healthy and in one piece. The fight will be for sure until the end. I'll fight until the end, so it'll be fun to watch."