Team Ineos unscathed but unspectacular in opening Vuelta a Espana TTT

Team Ineos put in a solid but unspectacular performance in the opening stage of the Vuelta a España, placing 11th in the team time trial and ceding 25 seconds to winners Astana.

Ineos did not have any of the crashes that marred the team time trials of Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates, nor did they have to deal with parked team cars on the road blocking their trajectory, like Deceuninck-Quick Step. 

The squad was led over the line by Spain’s David De La Cruz, a former Vuelta a España leader, and a late replacement for Kenny Elissonde after a last-minute changeover of the line-up.

“It was complicated to find a good rhythm, some parts were very hard early on then the second part was fast,” De La Cruz told reporters. “Maybe we went too fast on the climb in the first half, then slowed down later on. But overall, we did well.” 

On a personal level, De La Cruz said that he was a, “bit short on form, it’s not been an easy year with injuries and falls. Then initially being out of the race” - before Ineos re-selected him - “broke the usual sense of momentum you get during the build-up to a Grand Tour.”

“But now I’m here determined to enjoy it and I will for GC if I have a good enough level, and I’ll go for stage wins if not.”

“It wasn’t bad,” Tao Geoghegan Hart told a small group of reporters in comments that Ineos' website also opted later to publish.

“We were maybe a bit more depleted earlier than expected, but it was fairly decent. We were without a full eight [from early on] but that’s the reality of team time trialing on day one. There’s no place to open up on 13 kilometers. especially when you go up a few little drags early on.”

“So it’s not bad, obviously we were trying for more, but that’s bike racing.”

As for what it told him about his condition, Geoghegan Hart was categorical. “Nothing. I was rotating through on 13 kilometers with some strong boys.”

“Last year I felt super-good in the [Vuelta] prologue, so if I felt a bit fresh today, that’s a good thing. “

Looking ahead, he added, the rolling course on stage 2 would have little impact on the GC, although some riders would take some lessons away with them from how they went on the hills around Alicante that they wouldn’t necessarily be sharing.

 “Everyone will quietly have a bit more of an idea, with so much climbing. But it’s more in two or three days” - with the ascent to Javalambre on stage 5 - “then it’s definitely on.”

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, 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. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.