Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) may have lost more time to his Tirreno-Adriatico GC rival Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) on Sunday's stage 5, but he was in a philosophical mood afterwards, happy with his effort and looking forward to the challenge of Tuesday's closing time trial.
The steep climbs of Italy's eastern Marche region played host to the 'queen stage' of the race, and to Adam Yates bolstering his advantage over the Jumbo-Visma leader by another 18 seconds. Roglič could only watch as the flyweight Yorkshireman sprung away on the double-digit gradients leading to the finish in Recanati.
The usually taciturn Slovenian, who already has the UAE Tour to his name this season, was laid back about Sunday's result, satisfied that he gave his best.
"At the end, it's just a number in front of your name," he said while warming down after the stage. "I think we gave it our all with our full team, so yeah, I'm happy with today.
"It wasn't so bad. Some guys had even more problems. I'm happy – I gave my best, so what more could I do? If I could have gone faster, for sure I would have."
Monday's stage is one for the sprinters, but the traditional final time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto the following day is what Roglič will set his sights on. He's one of the top time triallists in the peloton, with two TT wins to his name in each of the past two seasons, as well as a silver medal in the discipline at the 2017 World Championships.
Still, he was reticent about Tuesday's 10km test against the clock, despite the pan-flat course and a bridgeable 25-second gap to make up on Yates.
"We'll see after the time trial. For me, again, I'll try to do my best.
"I don't know," he said when asked whether he thought Adam Yates would be able to replicate twin brother Simon's time trial stage win at Paris-Nice last week. We'll see – but anything's possible. We'll all start from zero and we'll all have, more or less, the same conditions."
Regardless of what happens in the remainder of 'The Race of the Two Seas', for both Roglič and Yates, their focus for the season lies elsewhere. While Yates is targeting France in July, for Roglič it’s a return to the Giro d’Italia – the race where he hit the big time with his Chianti time-trial win in 2016.
Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) are all at Tirreno-Adriatico and will be among Roglič’s rivals in May. He wouldn't be drawn on any forecasts, though, despite having the beating of all three men this week.
"It's [the racing in Italy] quite specific, so of course it's nice to feel Italy – and to taste Italy, too, with the Italian food," he joked. "But yeah – it's nice to race here.
"I think the Giro will be quite a different race to here at Tirreno. But I think every race is important; it's better to be doing this than training at home.
"I don't really need to hide – my goals are clear. But still you have to be realistic: it will be my second Giro, and my third Grand Tour, and so we'll just see what we can do with the whole team. We'll do our best, and then we'll be able to be happy at the end, whatever the outcome."
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