BMC victory puts Senni in yellow at Valenciana

24-year-old Italian celebrates first professional race lead

Crossing the line at the head of affairs for BMC Racing Wednesday at the Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana paid off with an expanded wardrobe for Manuel Senni, who came out of the opening team time trial stage with the race leader's yellow jersey, the green jersey for the points classification, the red jersey of the combined classification and the white jersey of best young rider.

It was a satisfying result for a rider who was a late edition to the team's roster for the Spanish event.

"I came into this race late, so I was just trying my hardest to stay with them for as long as possible," Senni said in an interview posted to the team's website. "In the end, I still had good legs and was able to go all the way. On the run into the finish line I was sitting at the front, so before I knew it, I had crossed the line first. There wasn't any plan for that to happen but I am super happy about it."

Wednesday's yellow jersey is the first for the 24-year-old Italian, and it came with a considerable fight. BMC was down by three seconds on Team Sky at the first time check, but the riders poured on the power over the second half of the course to take the win by 24 seconds.

"We heard that we had set the second fastest time overall behind Team Sky at the 11km checkpoint, so we knew that we had to put in some hard work over the final part of the course and we did exactly that," said Senni, who is in his third year with the team. "We put our heads down and gave it full gas to the line but we definitely didn't expect to finish with a margin that big."

Director Valerio Piva was ecstatic about the win, saying it provided a "dream" start for the team's European campaign.

"We prepared well for this opening team time trial, and it was the first objective of this race for us, and we achieved that, so it is fantastic," he said. "It was the performance of the whole team today that really stood out to me. We did a fantastic effort together. At the last moment Senni jumped into this race and not only did he do his very best job today, he was able to take the yellow jersey. The joy today is for everyone to share, and the team deserved this victory. We are happy, and we can now look to the next few days and do our best to defend this jersey."

BMC now has six riders at the top of the general classification, with Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet, Nicolas Roche, Stefan Küng and Ben Hermans trailing Senni in succession, all 21 seconds over six riders from Team Sky. The standings give BMC plenty of options over the following four stages, including the Queen stage on Saturday. Senni admitted he may not be the team's protected rider when the GC plays out later in the week.

"We are here to do our best and give it everything to try and bring the yellow jersey to the finish whether that is with me or with someone else," Senni said. "We have a couple of guys who are looking strong for the GC, so I will continue to give 100 per cent for the team and do what they ask of me over the next few days."

Van Avermaet, who is starting his season in Valencia after recovering from a winter ankle injury, said the opening stage was an important test for his team.

"We have a good team here, maybe not everyone is a time trial specialist, but for sure everyone did a really good job, and we had a smooth ride," he said. "I think that is very important for a team time trial like this where there really wasn't a lot of time to settle down on the bike. I am proud of everyone. Every rider did their job, and we saw the result on the finish."

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