Garmin Sharp’s team management confirmed Sunday that memories of the crash that wreaked havoc in their team time trial performance in the Giro d'Italia this May had left the American squad at a distinct disadvantage in the Vuelta a España's equivalent event on Saturday.
Garmin-Sharp finished 18th of the 22 teams, 41 seconds down on winners Movistar. But as the team’s sports director Bingen Fernandez told Cyclingnews, it was almost to be expected.
In May, the Giro crash in Belfast saw Dan Martin and Koldo Fernandez go down - both racing in the Vuelta a España - and left Ryder Hesjedal (also in Spain) on the backfoot for a GC bid. On top of that, in both 2013 and 2012, Garmin had mass crashes in the Vuelta’s opening team time trials in Galicia and Pamplona. Fernandez, who crashed in both of those, abandoned the Vuelta last year, too.
“The team weren’t going to take any risks, and on a time trial as technical as yesterday’s, each second you lose in each corner adds up,” Fernandez told Cyclingnews. “Looking at the times we saw we lost a bit more than we’d have liked, given team time trials are something of a speciality for us.
“But after what had happened in the Giro, they were carrying a fair amount of baggage from that experience, and they were more cautious on the roundabouts” - of which there were no less than 17 in 12.6 kilometres. “You could blame about half our time losses on that.”
Fernandez said that David Millar, who eased up near the finish was simply conserving energy. “David could have stayed with the team, but he’d just done a big turn and he chose to ease back. His job is to work for the leaders, and in three weeks time what has happened here [to him] will not be important.
“We’ve now got to look ahead towards the rest of the race. Obviously you’d like to lose less time than that, but it is what it is and now we’ll move on.”
The first stage over the flat coast roads of south-west Spain, Fernandez agreed, “is going to be risky because of the chances of cross winds. Tarifa [the nearest big town] isn’t the capital of Spanish windsurfing by chance, and we’ll have to be alert.”