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Castroviejo celebrates breakthrough lead in Vuelta

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First race leader Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Movistar)

First race leader Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Movistar) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Movistar) on the podium

Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Movistar) on the podium (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Jonathan Castroviejo leads his Movistar team across the finish line for a stage 1 TTT win.

Jonathan Castroviejo leads his Movistar team across the finish line for a stage 1 TTT win. (Image credit: AFP)

Movistar had numerous reasons for celebrating its victory in the Vuelta a Espana's opening team time trial on Saturday. Apart from being based in Pamplona ever since the team first came into being as Reynolds in the early 1980s, it was also Spain's first victory in a team time trial in a Grand Tour since 2003. Reynolds later became Banesto, then Caisse D'Epargne.

As for Jonathan Castroviejo he is well-known locally in Pamplona, coming from Getxo in nearby Bilbao, just 90 minutes away by car. And although Castroviejo does have a win in a Tour of Romandie prologue from 2011 in his palmares, leading the Vuelta and a Grand Tour for the first time in his career is a huge step forward for the 25-year-old, a time trial specialist who took second in the Spanish national's this summer and ninth in the Olympic time trial.

"We did very well considering we lost two riders early on and thought the differences would be much smaller, maybe one or two seconds," Castroviejo said afterwards.

"There wasn't anything decided about who would cross the line first, I was on the front by chance. But I'm very happy to be in the lead."

"Winning here at home for Movistar is something really significant. We knew the route well and that made a big difference for all of us, but on a personal level I'm having a good August, too."

"I did well in the Olympics and Eneco [where he took sixth overall] and I'm here to help the team, but this is a very special moment for me."

Asked about the searing heat - which was above 40 degrees (Celsius) late into the evening, Castroviejo said he didnt' think it was a factor. "Everybody's been here since Wednesday, so they've all had to deal with it."

Amongst the favourites, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Tinkoff Bank) said he was more than satisfied with his team's seventh place overall, just two seconds slower than arch-rivals Sky. Contador was visible on the front for long stretches in the closing kilometres, dragging the other riders along on the tough cobbled stretches running towards the bullring finish.

"We did a very good time, I'm very pleased, the team was really aware of how important this stage was," Contador said afterwards.

"All the stages of a Grand Tour are important, and this is just 16 kilometres, but we can go back to the hotel satisfied that we've done a good job here today."

"I'd like to dedicate this performance to all those people who've stood out for hours in this terrible heat, waiting to see the riders go by in a moment. It's not a win, but I want to thank them very much for showing such strong support in this weather."

Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez said he thought at some points during the time trial that his Katusha squad were riding so strongly that they could have ended up winning, "but we made a couple of mistakes and on such a short course, you pay a high price for errors."

"The team knew the route well and tried their best, which is what matters."

Asked if he was Contador's number one rival after his narrow defeat to Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) in the 2012 Giro, Rodriguez answered "I want to be up there, but there are a lot more contenders than just me and Alberto."

Local climbing specialist Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was one of the worst placed of the top favourites, with the Basque squad finishing 38 seconds down, but he said he was content with his performance.

"Considering we're a team of climbers, we can be pleased with this. We've worked hard recently at the team time trials and it's really important to get off to a good start. I want to go for the overall, even if there are a lot of top-flight contenders here."

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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.