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Vincenzo Nibali looks focused before the start
Tricky team time trial begins 66th Vuelta a España
A highly technical 13.5 kilometre team time trial course awaits teams for the 66th Vuelta a España, with defending champion Vincenzo Nibali and his Liquigas-Cannondale team last out of the start house in the coastal resort town of Benindorm.
Teams will depart every four minutes shortly after 5pm local time with Skil-Shimano the first to set a time.
With last year's stage winners HTC-Highroad, Garmin-Cervelo, Sky and Liquigas-Cannondale all expected to be in the mix for the podium this evening, Leopard Trek Sports Director Lars Michaelsen was realistic of the challenge ahead for his team.
"We are aiming for a top five finish on the stage with the goal of keeping Fuglsang and Monfort protected," said Michaelsen. "The team time trial will be hard. It starts along the coast and the first four kilometers are steep - all uphill. I expect there could be drama here for certain teams.
"It will be interesting to see how many riders each team has left at the finish line," Michaelsen continued. "The rules say you must finish with five, and I think teams will have to decide who to protect and who to drop. They will have to speculate on how best to use up their riders."
For HTC-Highroad, Stage 1 marks the beginning of the end as the team embarks on its final Grand Tour. With the aim of going out on a high, the team has also enlisted HTC-Highroad's technical developer, Lars Teutenberg for his time trial expertise to make sure that the fleet is in absolute perfect condition for the opener.
"We want a good result in the team time trial tomorrow," said sport director, Jens Zemke. "It's thirteen-and-a-half kilometres long and the guys are in good form so we're confident to make a good result there."
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