Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) has admitted that it will be very difficult to gain time on Juan José Cobo (Geox-TMC) during the final stages of the Vuelta a Espana but knows that anything can happen in cycling, with a crash, a split in the peloton or a bad moment able to change the race.
Wiggins lost time on the terribly steep climb of the Angliru on Sunday and is now third overall, 46 seconds behind Cobo, with teammate Chris Froome second overall at 20 seconds.
"I think Cobo has proved he's strong and it's going to be very, very difficult to dislodge him," he told Cyclingnews in this video interview before the start of stage 16.
"There are still five or six days left and anything can happen in cycling and it does. He's certainly the strongest on the climbs and so it's going to be difficult. But you've always got to look for an opportunity."
Wednesday's 17th stage to Peña Cabarga ends with a six kilometre climb but Wiggins admits that Cobo and his Geox-TMC team should be able to defend the lead.
"He's got a strong team and he's strong too, so it's difficult."
Wiggins conceded that he is struggling to see the positive aspects of his Vuelta performance and a possible final place on the podium in Madrid. He wanted to win the Vuelta.
"I'm own worst enemy sometimes and my biggest critic," he said. "I can't help feel deflated today. If someone had said I'd be lying third with five days to go, I'd have taken it, after having had an operation. But you get so into it and you concentrate on the here and now that you always want to win. And that makes it incredibly disappointing."