Pau - Tejay van Garderen said consistency will be the key for him to maintain his surprising challenge for the Tour de France yellow jersey.
After nine stages, the 26-year-old American has found himself second overall at just 12 seconds from race leader Chris Froome, the 2013 champion.
And while Van Garderen maintains he has a modest aim to finish on the podium rather than winning the title outright, he believes that by riding steadily he could finish above some more illustrious rivals.
He is currently almost a minute ahead of two-time former winner Alberto Contador, almost 2min minutes ahead of Nairo Quintana and more than 2min ahead of reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali.
"My strength is going to be in my consistency rather than my ability to fly up a climb and leave everyone in my dust, if I'm realistic," said the BMC team leader.
"In the Pyrenees I'm going to need to mark guys that are important and take the opportunities that are there, and use that as an opportunity to let the other guys wear themselves down.
"I think the real race is going to happen in the third week at least.
"The Tour is not a sprint race, it's a marathon. It's going to be won either on La Toussuire (stage 19) or l'Alpe d'Huez (stage 20) so you have to keep a little bit of your power dry (until then)."
Van Garderen says he will play a waiting game but the tactics of other contenders could produce very different types of racing.
"There are also time bonuses at the line which really influences how the race is going to be won," he added.
"We don't know what Sky's (Froome's team) tactic is going to be but they might want to let the breakaway win.
"But then maybe a team like Contador's (Tinkoff-Saxo) says no, he wants to race for the bonus seconds. So then his team chases back.
"With all these scenarios, you can't really plan for them, I'm just going to have to see how my legs respond once we get on the climbs."