Primoz Roglic admitted that he and his Jumbo-Visma team made a series of errors during the final kilometres of Sunday's stage 15 to Como but he considers himself lucky to have lost just 40 seconds to Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and current Giro d'Italia race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar).
Some small scars on Roglic's cheek were apparently the only injuries he suffered from crashed on the descent of the Civiglio and he was keen to move on from Sunday's mistakes on Monday afternoon after riding the rollers to avoid the heavy rain that dampened the second rest day in Bergamo.
"I feel quite normal, the way you feel after two weeks of racing. It's not the best with the crash I had but I think everything is OK. In the end, I think it was quite a lucky day. I was happy at the end," Roglic said, more relaxed and open than when he has his race face on for each stage.
"I think we all did some mistakes yesterday and it wasn't the best moment. I didn't actually feel good and also had some stomach problems. I actually had a bad day. I was lucky the way it went and so I was happy at the finish."
Roglic revealed that the Jumbo-Visma team held a meeting on Sunday evening to understand where each part of the team made mistakes. They also played down reports and questions about what happened to Roglic's damaged bike, claiming it was put on the second team car and then taken to the hotel. Directeur sportif Addy Engels pointed out that the UCI has scanned the biker several times so far during the Giro d'Italia as part of their strategy to fight mechanical doping.
The Slovenian sparked the chain of events when he missed a bidon on the top of the Ghisallo climb. He had no teammates in the front group in the final 20km and so before the race commissaire's stopped feeding from team cars, he dropped back to the Jumbo-Visma team car for a late bidon.
With other teams also feeding, the Jumbo-Visma directeur sportif Engels and Jan Boven judged it was a good moment to stop for a natural break. But that meant they weren't there when Roglic needed a sudden bike change after a front gear and chain problem. Roglic took teammate Antwan Tolhoek's bike when the Dutchman saw his team leader but it was 4mm smaller and had a slightly different set-up, contributing his crash on the descent and subsequent time loss.
"It's important to be hydrated, that's the main factor, so when you can, it's always good to take a bottle," Roglic said in his defence.
"I didn't really know what happened with the bike, if it was bad luck or my mistake. I got the chain stuck. I looked down and the chain was off and the shifter too. I had to stop."
He admitted riding Tolhoek's bike was one of the causes of his subsequent crash.
"Yeah of course. It's not your bike and everything is a little different, the brakes and the tyre pressure. I wanted to push and go on the limit. But small differences mean you can go over your limit and mistakes can happen. I was too quick in that corner and crashed."
Focused on the finale of the Giro d'Italia
Despite Sunday's problems, Roglic and Jumbo-Visma are still focused on winning the Giro d'Italia. If anything, a moment of difficult and reciprocal mistakes has brought them together. Roglic remains calm and collected, determined to pull on the final maglia rosa in Verona next Sunday.
"A lot of things count over the three weeks and so the energy away from the bike counts. So far we're doing a great job. I'm still really happy to be in the position I am entering the third week," he claimed.
Roglic knows he is racing against all of Italy as he takes on Nibali and their duel continues but he shrugs off any suggestion he could be at a disadvantage. His fans will also line the mountains in the final stages later this week.
"I think that's quite normal, it's his home country," he said of Nibali, trying to turn the pressure on the Sicilian but also aware that Carapaz and others are a threat.
"I'll have a lot of Slovenians at the race too because we're closer to the border. I'm looking forward to seeing them along the road. Everyone is a danger, there are a lot of good riders and I've got to try to be up there with the best every day and take advantage when I can.
Roglic is now 47 seconds behind Carapaz and 1:00 ahead of Nibali, but he is not the calculating type, claiming he does not study his power data, preferring to "be in the moment of racing".
"We've done the second week but the most important days are still to come. We all know Grand Tours are decided at the end and in the third week. I don't bother myself with the questions about if it's enough or who is in front. I worry about myself, and about being as good as possible tomorrow, and in the mountains."
A question about the removal of the Passo Gavia from Tuesday's stage is greeted with a shrug and a confirmation that he has done reconnaissance of all the final mountain stages.
"For me it doesn't change a lot. I think the decision will come on the Mortirolo," he said.
"I know the Mortirolo, I saw it in a recon ride, but I think it's the same for everyone. I'm not bad on the climbs but let's wait to the end of the Giro to say who is really the best.
Although he has to take back time on Carapaz, Roglic appears ready to wait until the final time trial in Verona to pull on the pink jersey.
"The most important thing is to have the jersey in Verona. I think everyone has that in mind. The last road stage is very, very hard and so will be important for the GC but I'm not scared to wait for the final time trial," he said.
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