Alto de la Alhambra: 35°
Russia's Denis Menchov (Rabobank) won the first stage 7 km time trial in a time of 9 minutes and 45 seconds, and becomes the first overall leader of the 2005 Vuelta a España. Defending champion Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) ended up seventh, while Rik Verbrugghe (Quick Step-Innergetic) was second in 9'46 and Bradley McGee (Française des Jeux) third, just three seconds behind Menchov.
"I actually didn't expect to win today," said Menchov. I knew I could do well, but I failed a lot in the last time trials. This year I felt better in the time trials, but I hadn't clocked good times up until now." About his current form, Menchov said, "after the Tour de France, I spent a rest week in Russia and I think that helped me a lot".
It was a typical summer's day in Granada: hot and very dry. The temperature was around 35 degrees celsius as the riders pushed up the Cat. 3 climb to the most important buildings in Spanish history: the Alhambra. Team CSC achieved a fine result as Carlos Sastre finished fourth, and the Danish squad ended up best team under the blazing hot sun, leading the team classification.
"It was definitely a good result because it was a really tough test today, where only those riders who are in shape had any chance of doing well," said CSC's satisfied sports director Kim Andersen after the stage. "Apart from Carlos, who was excellent, Vandevelde showed that his fine performances in Benelux Tour and Clasica San Sebastian weren't flukes. But also Jakob Piil and Linus Gerdemann did well out there today.
"This promises well for Carlos' chances in the rest of the race. We had a feeling he'd be in top shape after finishing well in the Tour and later having the time to prepare himself and spend time with his family without being troubled by injuries, illness or stressful contract negotiations. But just before a race starts you always get a little nervous anyway," Andersen added.
But other teams were struggling: Gerolsteiner's Uwe Peschel as well as Sven Montgomery were experiencing stomach problems. "We asked ourselves if a Uwe starting actually made sense," said directeur sportif Reimund Dietzen, who manages the team during its first participation in the Vuelta. "Monty was feeling so bad on Friday that he couldn't even attend the team presentation. But both of them are a little better now." Peschel finally finished 45th, only 36 seconds slower than the winner.
On top of that, Gerolsteiner's Matthias Russ crashed and René Haselbacher had a rear wheel mechanical. "That wasn't the debut we had hoped for," Dietzen added. "But we have to look at the positive side: It can only get better now!"