Tadej Pogacar has admitted that pipping his friend and fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic to the Tour de France earlier this year left him with "conflicting emotions".
Roglic established himself as the firm favourite to claim the yellow jersey, having topped the general classification from the ninth stage until Pogacar took it from him after the 20th.
During the final stage, the traditional procession through the Champs Elysees, the two embraced one another in a memorable scene.
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"At the time, I didn’t really know what to feel. Everything was tangled up in my chest, I had conflicting emotions," Pogacar told L’Equipe.
"I had been a Roglic fan since his first results. Between the ages of 15 and 20, I was shouting in front of my television for him to win, and now I was the one who had beaten him, who had denied him from achieving what he had been dreaming of for years…
"It was really strange. I kept telling myself: 'That’s racing, that’s sport, it’s normal that I want to win'.
"In fact, it was Primoz who managed to calm me. A few minutes after he finished, I was in the television tent and he came to find me and give me a hug.
"I’ll never forget that moment… It’s as though he was giving me permission to enjoy it and telling me it wasn’t my fault."
Classy gesture as Roglic congratulates Pogacar with embrace
Part of Pogacar's bittersweet memories may stem from a belief that in Slovenia, the watching public would have preferred a Roglic win.
"They were a bit like me, they would have preferred Primoz to win," he said.
"I realised it, I saw it on social media, they told me. But what can I do about it? Nothing."
Pogacar also voiced his opinion that the amount of doping in cycling had decreased drastically, saying that ESPN's recent Lance Armstrong documentary had been eye-opening for him.
"Yes, when I was young everybody talked a lot about that. At the club, every year, we had to sign a charter saying that we’d never dope. I signed that for a decade.
"Last June, I watched the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Lance Armstrong. I discovered just where all that could take somebody. Today, I have the feeling that doping has been reduced a lot in cycling."