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Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the opening team time trial at the Vuelta a España in Seville.
Yes, it may be late in Europe for a bike race and virtually dark in Seville but the organisers have opted for an unusual late start as a way of capturing attention for the third grand tour of the season.
The teams will start the 13km team time trial at four minutes intervals, with Footon-Servetto-Fuji first off at 22:04 local time.
Are you ready for a two hours of high-speed racing?
The 13km team time trial is on a circuit course around Seville. It has been extremely hot in the southern Spanish city since the riders arrived on Wednesday and temperatures of 31C are expected during the team time trial, even though it almost midnight local time when the stage ends.
This year’s race is the 75th edition of the race and could be one of the best since the race was moved from late April to late summer.
The Vuelta has attracted an impressive field, with Fränk and Andy Schleck (both Saxo Bank), Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia), Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne), Tyler Farrar, Christian Vande Valde (both Garmin-Transitions), Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) riding.
Sastre, Menchov, Sanchez, and Fränk Schleck are all targeting overall success, while the sprinters will be chasing stage victories and perfect form for the world championships in Australia.
Footon-Servetto is already out racing under the lights in Seville and Ag2r-La Mondiale have also justed started.
The Footon-Servetto riders are wisely using a single-line formation, with one rider doing a short turn on the front an then dropping back.
The boys in black and gold are going for it although there are one or two gaps in their nine-rider line. Now they have switched to a double line formation on a long straight section.
Milram is next to start. They look worried before the jump into the dark.
There they go, getting into a line as they come out of the first corner. There are huge crowds out on the course in Seville.
The first section of the course is in a narrow road before things get better and the roads widen. But still, would you like to race at over 50km/h in the dark?
The Milram riders are widely moving well across the road afterdoing their turn on the front.
Katusha is next on the start ramp. Here they go.
Katusha has a quality line-up with Joaquin Rodriguez, Alexandre Kolobnev, Pippo Pozzato and breakaway expert Mikhail Ignatiev.
Here come Footon-Servetto to set the first time.
The rider is taken on the fifth rider in the team and Footon set a time of 15:03.
How long will that last?
Ag2r has just five riders in their team as they approach the finish.
Nicholas Roche brings home the team, setting a time of 14:39
Ag2r is fastest so far.
HTC-Columbia is now on the start and should set a very fast time.
Bernhard Eisel leads ruond the first corner, with Mark Cavendish on his wheel. Cav will be whipping the boys along and may be under orders to finish first and perhaps take the leader's jersey.
Milram sets a time of 14.24
Quick Step is on the start ramp and here they go, pushing a low gear as they sprint up to speed.
The HTC-Columbia team car has its lights blazing to give the riders some extra light. They need it, there are some dark spots and the changes in conditions make it difficult to judge gaps.
Here come Kstusha.
14:26 for the Russian squad.
Here is Omega Pharma-Lotto on the ramp.
HTC are hammering away, taking short turns on the front.
Quick Step go over the bridge and dive into the corner.
Here come BBox Bouygues Telecom. The riders are all together but off the pace with a time of 14:45.
This night time TTT is a real test of speed and nerves.
Bernhard Eisel has dropped off the line of HTC. Here they come to the finish.
HTC are fast, setting a time of 14:06. That is 18 seconds faster than Milram.
Mark Cavendish was first over the line and so will be race leader if HTC wins the TTT.
Euskaltel-Euskadi now start.
There is a gap in the Euskaltel line already. Somebody will have to close that. Here come Quick Step.
Quick Step sets a time of 14:29.
Lampre is onw on the start ramp, including sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, who was questioned about accusations of doping just a few days ago.
Andrey Kashechkin is also in the Lampre team after serving his two-year ban for blood doping and joining the Italian team.
Omega Pharma sets a time of 14: 23. That is good enough for second place so far, behind HTC-Columbia.
Team Sky set off into the dark.
Team Sky starts fast. They won the TTT at the Tour of Qatar back in February but that was under the blazing sun of the gulf.
Francaise des Jeux finish with a time of 14:39 They have a eight riders together but didn't have much speed.
Euskaltel lose a rider as they power to the finish. They have just six riders left. Now they are just five.
Euskaltel set a time of 14:33. That is 27 seconds slower than HTC-Columbia.
Team Sky is also shedding riders along the 13km course.
Liquigas-Doimo start, with Vincenzo Nibali team leader and powerhouse for the TTT. Liquigas won the TTT at the Giro this year, beating Team Sky. Will The Brits get revenge here at the Vuelta?
Two Liquigas riders have started a little too fast and the others are struggling to get back up to them. That will cost them something.
Lampre is next to finish, with Petacchi leading them home. Lampre sets a time of 14:20 and takes second place.
HTC-Columbia stil lead the standing after 11 teams reach the finish.
Team Sky finishes with six riders and a time of 14:34 They are slower than HTC-Columbia and are only eighth fastest so far.
Garmin-Transitions is on the start ramps. Can they beat HTC? We'll see in just over 14 minutes.
Garmin has already lost a rider after the start. The US team always rides an aggressive TTT, using riders for specific parts of the course.
Cofidis stops the clock in 14:34.
Astana is one the start ramp and roll off into the night.
Wisely the lead Astana riders makes sure everyone is safely through the first corner. Now they are cranking it up to speed.
Garmin has lost another rider and is down to seven riders.
Liquigas-Doimo sets a fast time, with Nibali bringing home the boys in a time of 14:16
Here come the Schlecks as SAxo Bank staert their TTT. Andy is wearing the Luxembourg national TT champions jersey. Saxo Bank has Fabian Cancellara to drag them around the 13km course.
Local team Xacobeo-Galicia finishes just 26 seconds behind HTC-Columbia. Pretty good.
Garmin-Transitions finishes with a time of 14: 23 Christian Vande Velde leads them home but that is not good enough to threaten HTC-Columbia. Can Saxo Bank do better?
Garmin finished with five riders but was 17 seconds slower than HTC-Columbia. Rabobank is now out on the course.
Astana is next to finish in a time of 14: 47. That is 41 seconds slower than HTC-Columbia and puts them well down, in 16th place so far.
Cervélo TestTeam rolls down the ramp and gets under way. This will sadly be the last grand tour for the team after their decision to end the team and join forces with Garmin.
A Rabobank rider has problem, and another, but nobody is waiting for them because Menchov is up front.
Luis Leon Sanchez brings home Caisse d'Epargne in a time of 14:31. HTC-Columbia still leads.
Last team to start tonight, as the clock approaches 11:30 in Seville, is Andalucia-Cajasur. They are the local heroes and get a huge cheer.
Cervelo is shedding riders. That could mean they are going super fast, or could mean some of the riders are off the pace.
Saxo Bank finishes but were a little ragged, with riders spread across 50 metres instead of being all together. They set a time of 14:18 but it is not enough to beat HTC-Columbia.
It looks like Mark Cavendish will pull on the first race leader's jersey tonight. Probably only Cervelo TestTeam has a chance of beating them.
Here comes Rabobank with team leader Denis Menchov. They are off the pace with a time of 14:42. Only 17th for them.
The Cervelo riders are back in black for the TTT and are blasting through the streets of Seville.
Cervelo wil lbe home in two minutes but is losing Theo Boss off the back of the line. He uses his sprint to get back on but is at the very back.
Riders now sit up after doing big turns and there are just five riders left together, including Thor Hushovd and Carlos Sastre.
Cervelo TestTeam finished 13 seconds slower than HTC-Columbia, fourth place is a good ride but not good enough to stop Cavendish pulling on the first leader's jersey. This year the jersey is a bright red.
Andalucia-Cajasur finishes and sets a time of 14:54 However it is HTC-Columbia that celebrates yet another victory tonight. The boys in yellow, white and black set a time of 14:06 for the 13km course. Liquigas-Doimo was second at 10 seconds, with Saxo Bank third at 12 seconds.
Mark Cavendish brought home the HTC-Columbia team and crossed the line first. That means the Manxman will pull on the first race leader's jersey and pop the champagne cork on the podium. He did exactly the same thing at the 2009 Giro d'Italia when it started in Venice.
It's almost midnight in Spain as the crowds head home or continue their evening stroll.
The provisional general classification shows has Mark Cavendish as the first race leader ahead of teammates Peter Velits, his brother Martin, Lars Bakand Hayden Roulston.
Tejay Van Garderen is seventh overall.
That's it for tonight's special night time live coverage of the stage one team time trial at the Vuelta. Join us tomorrow for stage two from Alcalá de Guadaíra to Marbella. Mark Cavendish will wear the leader's jersey during the 173.7km dash to the coast.