Vuelta a España leader Nairo Quintana said he was untroubled by the presence of two of Chris Froome's teammates in the break of the day during stage 12, despite the potential threat to Movistar's control of the race.
Sky's David Lopez and Peter Kennaugh, the latter 15th overall and a former Vuelta leader, both made it into the five-man break which stayed away for 130 kilometres and was only caught after Astana had joined forces with Movistar to reel them in.
Lopez explained later on Spanish television that after Tinkoff had done the bulk of the leader's team work on stage 11 to Peña Cabarga, the idea of he and Kennaugh getting in the break "was to make Movistar work behind."
"We thought that more riders would come across and that the break would stick, but in the end, there just weren't enough riders there for it to stay away."
The break was finally caught 18 kilometres from the line.
"We weren't worried at all," Quintana said later. "We'd had Imanol [Erviti] and Rory [Sutherland] keeping things under control on the flatter part and then other teams that were looking for the stage win began helping us, too. We handled it absolutely fine, without losing our nerve."
Quintana agreed with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) that "this wasn't a quiet day."
"There haven't been any quiet days at all, and I don't think we'll have any. People with little time lost on GC keep on getting in the breaks and that drives us all on.
"We saw that today, in theory the break was going to stick, but finally other teams didn't want that to happen."
Quintana explained how he and his teammate Alejandro Valverde, third overall share out the responsibilities of handling different manouvres by their rivals, such as when Valverde proved instrumental in chasing down one surging attack by Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) on the second ascent of the second category Vivero cimb on Thursday.
"We each handle different situations, but we can't let Froome or Alberto out of our sight. Normally Alejandro controls some attacks, and then the harder ones, from Froome, are for me."
Quintana said he was very pleased to be racing in the Basque Country for Thursday and Friday's stages, given he has good memories of here. Quintana won his first World Tour stage race, the Vuelta al País Vasco, back in 2013, he pointed out, and knows the region well.
Knowing the Basque Country's undulating terrain as he does, perhaps it was unsurprising that Quintana said he hoped a break would go early and stick on Friday's 213.4 kilometre stage, the longest of this year's Vuelta, across Euskadi. But to judge by the previous two stages, Quintana's wish seems unlikely to be fulfilled.
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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