Primoz Roglic says he enjoyed a "pretty perfect" year despite another chaotic 12 months as he opened up on how his rapid rise to the top has changed him.
The 32-year-old Slovenian abandoned the Tour de France before winning gold in the time trial at the Tokyo Olympics. He then suffered another series of crashes at La Vuelta but still came out on top for the third time in his career.
But despite gaining a reputation as a robotic rider, relentless in pursuit of glory, Roglic says there is far more beneath the surface.
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"I'm not the cycling Terminator, that's not who I am," Roglic told Cyclingnews.
"I like to see difficulties in life as a challenge rather than as a problem. I think racing and life goes well when you live that way.
"What is happening in the world at the moment has reminded us all that we need to try and enjoy life. If I didn't enjoy racing, doing all the training and all the pain and suffering, I'd do something else that gives me pleasure, because I need to be happy in life.
"I'm also not the guy who speaks loudly and shows off. In our sport, you have to show what you can do out on the road, with your legs, not on television. I think people like it when you don't give up and you keep fighting. I think I'm delivering some kind of message, about not giving up, and I think people appreciate that."
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Roglic fast-tracked into cycling after abandoning a career in ski jumping following a heavy crash.
He has only been racing with Team Jumbo-Visma since 2016, but team directeur sportif Addy Engels has praised the way he has matured both physically and mentally in that time.
Engels believe Roglic is now mentally capable of consistently competing with the very best and bouncing back after every setback.
And Roglic agrees that in just five years with Jumbo-Visma he has transformed himself.
"I think I've grown up in so many ways during the last few years," Roglic added.
"My career went super fast. I was a later developer, who came to cycling from a different sport and had to learn everything super quick. You need to learn how to ride and in my case, I needed to learn how to suffer."
So, after another rollercoaster season, what is Roglic's verdict?
He said: "It was crazy, eh?
"This year went pretty perfect. I enjoyed it from the start to the finish."
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