Primož Roglič evinced confidence as he reached the Vuelta a España's first rest day in the leader's red jersey, but warned he has 'no margin for error' in the face of Movistar's and Ineos Grenadiers' strength in numbers.
The winner of the last two editions of the Vuelta made the perfect start to the race with victory in the opening time trial, and has since established himself as the strongest rider uphill. He was second place behind breakaway winners on the Balcón de Alicante and Alto de Velefique, taking a lead of 28 seconds over Movistar's Enric Mas into Monday's rest day, with no one else within a minute.
"Up to now, everything is going very well, for me and the whole of my team," Roglič said in a rest day interview with Spanish newspaper Marca.
"We've started out as we wanted to. I'm at the top of the general classification, so for now it's all good news for me. The start has certainly been encouraging."
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However, Roglič isn't letting himself feel too comfortable in red.
Mas might be the only rider within a minute but third place is occupied by his Movistar teammate Miguel Angel López, who sits at 1:21. Likewise, although Giro d'Italia champion Egan Bernal struggled on Sunday's mountain stage, he and his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Adam Yates are both in contention in fifth and sixth overall, either side of the two-minute mark.
"They have two cards to play at the moment. I'm not really frightened, because I have confidence in myself and in my team, but Movistar and Ineos have strong teams and we cannot commit any errors," Roglic warned.
"Having two such strong riders up there allows them to come up with strategies that could put us in difficulty. We know the strength of those teams, but if my teammates are going well, we can can face up to them as we have on other occasions."
Roglič can count on Sepp Kuss, Steven Kruijswijk, Robert Gesink and Sam Oomen for support in the mountains.
He identified Mas, who was the only rider able to match him up the Alto de Velefique on Sunday, as the biggest threat to his chances of a third straight title.
"He's very strong, and has shown he's at a very high level. I believe he's my main rival, but there's still a long way to go and there can be problems of any variety. Other rivals could emerge and I have to be alert at all times to keep them under control," Roglič said.
Control appears to be the mode of operation as Roglič takes his leadership into the second week.
"I believe this second week is going to be more controllable," he said. "There are short days, where I go well, and also some opportunities for the sprinters.
"But, as I said, I have to be alert at all times, and the weekend will bring difficult mountain stages, so I'm expecting a hard race."
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