Primoz Roglic had not expected that he would recapture the red jersey in the tenth stage of the Vuelta a España.
The leader of Jumbo-Visma booked his third stage victory and took the lead in the general classification over Richard Carapaz.
"It's a nice surprise and it's nice to be in the lead again", Roglic said on Friday after the stage.
"I went purely for the win, not for the red jersey. Not much will change for the team."
The Slovenian jumped in the tenth stage on a difficult final climb out of a considerably thinned peloton and stayed a few meters ahead of the competition.
Thanks to the bonus seconds and the three seconds loss of Carapaz, he pushed the Ecuadorian from the first place in the standings.
"This was a great victory and I am very happy", said Roglic, who celebrated his 31st birthday on Thursday.
"It's never easy to win, but I had good legs. I got a year older, so also stronger. It's just like wine: the older the better."
'It will be a super tough ride'
Roglic, who previously won the opening stage and the eighth stage in the Vuelta, is now exactly in the same time as Carapaz in the standings.
Because he recorded better stage results than the leader of INEOS Grenadiers, he is in the lead.
In the penultimate weekend of the Vuelta, two mountain stages are on the program.
On Saturday the finish is on the Alto de La Farrapona, a climb of the first category, and a day later the finish is on the very tough Alto de l'Angliru.
"It will be a very tough ride", Roglic said of Saturday's stage.
"I expect the peloton to stay together in the beginning and that it will get harder towards the finish. But we have seen that we have a strong team in the mountains."
See also: View the rankings of the Vuelta with Poels in 9th place