Primoz Roglic’s second place in Stage 16 of La Vuelta saw him extend his advantage at the top of the general classification with just one significant stage remaining.
Roglic’s six bonus seconds saw him stretch his lead over Ineos Grenadiers’ Richard Carapaz to 45 seconds, and Eurosport pundit Alberto Contador says that the tactics from Ineos during Friday’s stage were hard to understand.
"Fortunately, the weather conditions have not been as bad as we expected. Even so, I had a hard time understanding Ineos' approach today,” he said.
"Carapaz is a cyclist who, in order to fight to win the Vuelta, should have a higher level team like the one Ineos prepared for the Tour or the Giro. I understand that they have their priorities and Tao's role in the Giro is brutal, but I think that in this Vuelta the team has lowered the level a lot.”
Stage 16 highlights - Breakaway denied as Roglic strengthens grip on red jersey
Ineos arrived at the Vuelta with a relatively weak roster compared to their teams for the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia earlier in the autumn season.
And that lack of support for Carapaz was compounded by Chris Froome’s lack of race fitness as he continues his comeback from serious injury.
Froome - 'This is a process I have to go through to get back to the top level'
Any hopes of Froome acting as a super-domestique were banished in the opening stages, with the Brit almost three hours down in general classification going into the final two stages.
And Contador says that lack of support means Carapaz and Ineos have failed to really challenge Roglic.
"Carapaz is playing his role and I don't think he can do much more with what his colleagues are doing. In the end when you don't achieve the goal you set out to achieve you start to question and look for explanations. Jumbo is winning without any problems and almost without any effort and that has to be analysed.
"Roglic I think he can win La Vuelta easier than for a long time because I don't think anybody has put him in trouble and the days go by while he has been very quiet. It would be interesting if someone had really tested Roglic in this race because I'm sure it would have been different.''