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Live coverage

Vuelta a España 2011: Stage 1


Hello and welcome to our live coverage the Vuelta, the third and final grand tour of the season. The race kicks off today with a 13.5km team time trial around Benidorm. We're a little under 20 minutes away from the start. Teams go off in 4 minute interviews.

This is the third time the Vuelta has started in Benidorm, the previous one being in 1987, when Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke beat Sean Kelly in a prologue time trial.

This year’s team time trial is about the same length as last year’s equivalent test in Sevilla that was won by HTC, although this one finishes just before sunset rather than beginning just after. The technical course starts at the beach and rises quite quickly during the opening 3.5km before twisting back down towards the sea again. Given their exceptional quality in this kind of test, HTC-Highroad will be heavily tipped to win here.

Distance: 13.5km
Highest point: 138m
Category: Team time trial

"The race starts a week earlier this year, when everyone in Spain will be on the beach. So we decided to take the race to one of the best beaches in the world. The start ramp will actually be right on the sand, which will provide a great spectacle."


Javier Guillén says...

"The race starts a week earlier this year, when everyone in Spain will be on the beach. So we decided to take the race to one of the best beaches in the world. The start ramp will actually be right on the sand, which will provide a great spectacle."


Here are today's start times:

1 Skil-Shimano 17:02:00
2 Team Garmin-Cervélo 17:06:00
3 Quick-Step 17:10:00
4 Pro Team Astana 17:14:00
5 Cofidis 17:18:00
6 BMC 17:22:00
7 Leopard-Trek 17:26:00
8 Rabobank 17:30:00
9 Vacansoleil-DCM 17:34:00
10 RadioShack 17:38:00
11 Andalucia-Caja Granada 17:42:00
12 Omega Pharma-Lotto 17:46:00
13 Saxo Bank-Sungard 17:50:00
14 Ag2R-La Mondiale 17:54:00
15 Team Sky 17:58:00
16 Lampre-ISD 18:02:00
17 Movistar Team 18:06:00
18 Katusha 18:10:00
19 HTC-Highroad 18:14:00
20 Geox-TMC 18:18:00
21 Euskaltel-Euskadi 18:22:00
22 Liquigas-Cannondale 18:26:00

It's a very technical course, with a slight incline for the first few kms. Then is down hill with the final half almost half.

Who will win? The team that makes the fewest mistakes. Who are you picking for today. Let me know at

Sky have a strong line up, as to Leopard, RadioShack and Garmin - however they go off super early. Dont rule out BMC though. They were the surprise of the TTT at the Tour and who knows, Mini Phinney could be in gold or is red, by the end of the day.

And Liquigas go off last. They had a shocker in the TTT at the Tour this year. They'll be expected to pull something out of the bag today though as Nibali wont want to concede any time to the likes of Rodriguez or Anton.

However I cant really see Euskatel or Katusha having strong performances.

And of course Skil who get us under way. This is their first grand tour in a number of years and it's great to see them back. Ethically strong, built on strong but sound financial routes, they're what teams should be like. They'll get things under way in just a matter of seconds.

Vuelta Predictions: @bragwiggins will be very, very serious. @andykloedi will have an excuse, and @BMCProTeam will be in rouge. @dnlbenson

@UCI_Overlord Sat, 20th Aug 2011 16:02:26

@dnlbenson i'm backing team sky to take this one out today

@james_mcdonald Sat, 20th Aug 2011 16:01:22

Sky certainly have a strong line up and Wiggins is certainly putting everything into the race. He has claimed that he's fitter and lighter than he was at the Tour. The biggest question mark is still over his form though. He's not raced since the Tour.

One rider we've not mentioned is Menchov. Top ten in the Giro, has won this race twice, and will be super motivated after missing out on the Tour. He'll have support from Sastre, who is also here. Both long in the tooth but considering Evans won the Tour and he's 34, it's all possible.

Farrar is now out on the course by the way, along with his Garmin teammates. Technically they'll be good on this course, but they'll miss the likes of Millar, Vande Velde and Zabriskie who are not here.

RT @UCI_Overlord: Vuelta Predictions: @bragwiggins will be very, very serious. @andykloedi will have an excuse, and @BMCProTeam will be in rouge. @dnlbenson

@JeuneGuillou Sat, 20th Aug 2011 16:05:56

Garmin are looking strong at the moment, all nine riders still together. Remember they're going off very early and with so many big teams still to come and not a cloud in the sky, it's going to be very difficult for them.

Quick Step off next. I think they'll have a good race actually. Chavanel, who is blogging for us during the race, looks strong and he'll be testing himself in a number of breaks.

Boonen is here too and he'll be looking for form. They'll also need some points. Having missed out on Gilbert to BMC and with Tony Martin still not signed, they're under big pressure to keep their World Tour place.

No wonder Lefevere seemed so downcast when I called him on Thursday. He must have known then that Gilbert was off to BMC.

Astana are off now. Cofidis on the start ramp now too. The ramp is right on the beach front.

Moncoutie is here. The evergreen Frenchmen looking for another title in the KOM. He had a poor Tour, fell out with the French for daring to try and win a stage, and chase Roy.

Skil are coming to the line now. Very large crowds out, as you would expect. 16:48 for Kittel and co. That time wont last long.

Kittel will be looking to test himself in the grand tour ranks. IF he can come away with a stage win it would be huge moment in his young career. Just 23 he looks like a real talent.

Quick Step racing along the sea front. Not the most organised train there, I'm afraid. A couple of riders are already hanging at the back and missing turns.

BMC on the ramp now. Dark horses this team. No Evans here but a number of talents out there. Phinney, despite crashing a few days ago, will be doing a huge amount of work.

Garmin are coming to the line now. 6 riders left. And they've failed to knock Skil's time off the leaderboard. Farrar led them over the line.

Dan Martin, it's his birthday today, wont be too happy with that ride from his team.

Leopard Trek about to start. Cancellara could probably win this stage on his own. However he's got to drag 8 tourists around Benidorm.

Cancellara was stung by a bee, spent some time in hospital but he's fit to start. Cancellara in the world TT jersey. No real GC ambitions here, which is a surprise. Fuggles is here, he had a poor Tour, but he's capable of doing something.

Meanwhile Quick Step has set the fastest time, 3 seconds faster than Skil.

Astana will be the next team to finish. Kessiakoff could be a man to watch over the next few weeks. Bumped by Garmin last year, he was dropped from Astana's Tour team very late on this season. He'll have a point to prove here and the parcour should suit him.

Rabobank on the ramp now. They've got a super strong team here. Luis Leon is the national tt champ and he'll be looking for some strong support from his teammates today.

All nine Rabobank men straight into a single line as Astana come to the line.

RadioShack set to start in a few minutes. A number of strong riders here for them but the mountains will decide who their true GC leader is.

Astana post the best time at 16:40. Not bad at all. Loving the skin suits. No idea why they're so shiny,  must be something technical.

Cofidis have come to the line in 5th place.

Leopard are looking fast by the way, Rabobank have lost Friere off the back already.

Shack now on the start ramp. They are a strong team, they really are. If they can stay upright they could do a lot of damage in this race. Awful start though and Jani has a technical, something wrong with his bars. They'll have to wait surely. All that bad luck from the Tour, they've brought it here to Spain.

BMC, the team I bigged up at the start, come home in 5th.

Leopard are looking good still. They've lost a rider but Cancellara is bossing things on the front.

Shack has waited for Jani. They wont win the stage, they'll lose time to GC rivals as well.

Rabo on the way home now, along the seafront. They, like Leopard, are strung out in single file but looking good.

Here come the Leopard. 16:40 to beat and they finish in 16:30. Fuggles leads them over the line.

There are going to be some fairly big gaps after today. Garmin and BMC already 25-27 seconds down.

Shack are going to need to be careful. They need to race full gas but they cant afford to drop too many riders. It's the first five riders over the line.

Rabo, 12 seconds down on Leopard at the first time check.

Lotto now on the ramp. Lang, a good TT rider, will organise things on the road. They had a good TTT in the Giro, so they could do something, especially when you consider that a number of their riders used to ride for HTC, a team that have been very strong in TTTs over the years.

Rabobank coming to the line, they wont beat Leopard or a number of teams actually. They're in at 17:00 and in 7th. They wont be happy with that at all.

@dnlbenson Phil Gilbert would have won Vuelta's TTT in 12:37

@JeuneGuillou Sat, 20th Aug 2011 16:49:52

Saxobank now start their TTT. Sorensen will lead them in GC. Fully capable of finishing in the top 15. Not a very smooth start a rider dropped already, having a problem with his chain. He'll chase and get back on though.

Sky, HTC still both to start. Can either team knock Leopard Trek off the number 1 spot?

AG2R are the next team to start. Roche will be looking to find some form in Spain. He's said it's his favourite race and he's performed well here in the past. After a poor Tour he'll be looking to bounce back.

Once Ag2R start Sky will be next.

Shack come to the line, 16:59 and in 7th. Considering how badly things were for the in the first 10 meters they can't be too disappointed. Still, I wouldn't want to be the mechanic who was working on his bike. It could be a very frosty dinner this evening.

And Sky are up. Wiggins in the middle of the line up. It's not a great ramp to be fair and riders have looked nervous on it. Stannard lead things off for the British team.

As Nick Nuyens becomes the first rider of the race to crash. he's back up and on his bike. which is good to see.

Lotto have lost Hansen. They're down to 8 now. Lampre about to start their TTT. Scarponi their GC rider. He could win the Vuelta, there's no doubt about it. He was the closest to Contador in the Giro, he's taken a break from racing and been training up Etna with Petacchi, and he's said he's here to win.

And a Lampre rider having a problem at the star ramp. Disaster. It's not Scarponi.

As Lotto, being led by Lang, they finish in 5th.

No idea what's wrong with the ramp. From our position up in the blimp it looks fine but that's three riders who have had problems, with either chains slipping or punctures.

Laura has just passed me the results so far. Here we go:

1 Leopard-Trek 0:16:30
2 Pro Team Astana 0:16:40
3 Quick-Step 0:16:45
4 Skil-Shimano 0:16:48
5 Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:16:48
6 Team Garmin-Cervélo 0:16:55
7 BMC 0:16:58
8 RadioShack 0:16:59
9 Rabobank 0:17:00
10 Cofidis 0:17:03
11 Vacansoleil-DCM 0:17:09
12 Andalucia-Caja Granada 0:17:33

It was Marzano from Lampre who had problems at the start ramp.

1 Leopard-Trek 0:16:30
2 Pro Team Astana 0:16:40
3 Quick-Step 0:16:45
4 Skil-Shimano 0:16:48
5 Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:16:48
6 Team Garmin-Cervélo 0:16:55
7 BMC 0:16:58
8 Saxo Bank-Sungard 0:16:58
9 RadioShack 0:16:59
10 Rabobank 0:17:00
11 Cofidis 0:17:03
12 Vacansoleil-DCM 0:17:09
13 Andalucia-Caja Granada 0:17:33

Katusha about to start their TTT. Rodriguez will just look to keep out of trouble and hide in the wheels. That was a pretty good start from the Russian team. Karpets will call the shots but he'll need to keep an eye on Rodriguez.

Here come AG2R. 17:12, 13th position. Not great, not bad but a number of teams still have to finish and you can expect them to drop further down the standings by the end of the day.

Movistar out on the course now. They had stronger teams at the Giro and Tour in my opinion and they'll struggle today. A team with a hugely rich history but not real GC rider.

Disaster for Wiggins. They're down to 4 riders, Zandio makes it back and now they have 5 again. They'll have lost a lot of time there. it's all going Leopard's way.

Cav and HTC start. Into a perfect line and Tony Martin leads things off.

Sky still with 5 riders. It's on Zandio's shoulders here because if he's dropped they're in big trouble. 17:12, 14th place. That's a hugely disappointing result for the British team. Not sure how or why they lost so many riders.

Movistar, second at the first time check, 2 seconds down.

1 Leopard-Trek 0:16:30
2 Pro Team Astana 0:16:40
3 Quick-Step 0:16:45
4 Skil-Shimano 0:16:48
5 Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:16:48
6 Team Garmin-Cervélo 0:16:55
7 BMC 0:16:58
8 Saxo Bank-Sungard 0:16:58
9 RadioShack 0:16:59
10 Rabobank 0:17:00
11 Cofidis 0:17:03
12 Vacansoleil-DCM 0:17:09
13 Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:17:12
14 Team Sky 0:17:12
15 Andalucia-Caja Granada 0:17:33

Geox about to start. I really cant call how they'll go today, especially after I tipped BMC and Sky and called 8 out of 9 Leopard riders tourists.


Lampre coming to the line. They're down to 6 and Scarponi is gritting his teeth. 17:02, 11th position.

Euskatel and Liquigas, the only teams yet to start. Movistar will be the next team to finish. They were 2 seconds down on Leopard at the first time check and they're looking very smooth.

1 Leopard-Trek 0:16:30
2 Pro Team Astana 0:16:40
3 Quick-Step 0:16:45
4 Skil-Shimano 0:16:48
5 Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:16:48
6 Team Garmin-Cervélo 0:16:55
7 BMC 0:16:58
8 Saxo Bank-Sungard 0:16:58
9 RadioShack 0:16:59
10 Rabobank 0:17:00
11 Lampre-ISD 0:17:02
12 Cofidis 0:17:03
13 Vacansoleil-DCM 0:17:09
14 Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:17:12
15 Team Sky 0:17:12
16 Andalucia-Caja Granada 0:17:33

Cav has been distanced by his team now as well. That's a surprise to be honest. Perhaps a mechanical that we've missed.

Euskatel start. Igor Anton will be here to prove a point after crashing out of the race last year while in the leader's jersey.

Here come Movistar, 3rd, 16:44. A very good performance from the Spanish team.

Fuggles will be in the leader's jersey unless HTC can pull something out of the bag.

Geox are now on the climb, this is where so many teams have come unstuck and lost riders.

And a crash for Geox, Blanco down. His bike just went from under him on a switch back. He's up and made it back to the others. Luckily for him the pace was very slow.

And Liquigas, the final team, with the defending champion, Nibali in red, are off. Nibali leads them down the ramp and moves straight to the front to set the pace.

Here come Katusha. Over the line in 16:55, 8th place.

Martin swings off, having done a huge pull for HTC. They're down to 6 men but as you would expect they're looking smooth and organised.

1 Leopard-Trek 0:16:30
2 Pro Team Astana 0:16:40
3 Movistar Team 0:16:45
4 Quick-Step 0:16:45
5 Skil-Shimano 0:16:48
6 Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:16:48
7 Team Garmin-Cervélo 0:16:55
8 Katusha 0:16:56
9 BMC 0:16:58
10 Saxo Bank-Sungard 0:16:58
11 RadioShack 0:16:59
12 Rabobank 0:17:00
13 Lampre-ISD 0:17:02
14 Cofidis 0:17:03
15 Vacansoleil-DCM 0:17:09
16 Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:17:12
17 Team Sky 0:17:12
18 Andalucia-Caja Granada 0:17:33

Cav made it back to the HTC train by the way, and they're coming to the line.

Second place, 16:39. It looks like Fuglsang will lead the race. Unless Euskatel - I dont think so - and Liquigas can produce an incredible ride.

Geox over the line in 19th place. Shocker for Menchov and Sastre.

We're hearing that there was a crash for Sky involving Arvesen and Zandio.

Meanwhile, Nibali's team has set the fastest time at the first time check.

1km to go for Anton and co. They should finish around 17 minutes, which would be a good time for them. they were 4th at the first time check. Anton does a big turn himself and asks for his teammates to come through.

Over the line in 16:58, 11th place.

That's 28 seconds down on Leopard but they'll be very happy with that result.

1 Leopard-Trek 0:16:30
2 HTC-Highroad 0:16:40
3 Pro Team Astana 0:16:40
4 Movistar Team 0:16:45
5 Quick-Step 0:16:45
6 Skil-Shimano 0:16:48
7 Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:16:48
8 Team Garmin-Cervélo 0:16:55
9 Katusha 0:16:56
10 Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:16:58
11 BMC 0:16:58
12 Saxo Bank-Sungard 0:16:58
13 RadioShack 0:16:59
14 Rabobank 0:17:00
15 Lampre-ISD 0:17:02
16 Cofidis 0:17:03
17 Vacansoleil-DCM 0:17:09
18 Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:17:12
19 Team Sky 0:17:12
20 Geox-TMC 0:17:14
21 Andalucia-Caja Granada 0:17:33

It looks like Liquigas is down to 5. That's a big problem because they've still got more than 2km to go. They're on the ropes.

@dnlbenson And the losers are: @bradwiggins, @nicholasroche, Scarponi, Menchov and Sastre. All lost more than 30 seconds on Fuglsang

@JeuneGuillou Sat, 20th Aug 2011 17:42:14

1km to go for Nibali. 15:32. They'll finish outside Leopard's time. Leopard will take the stage and Fuglsang will be in red.

Hang on...

No 16:34 Sagan led them over the line but there was slight split.

Nibali and co miss out on the stage but they will be very, very happy with that ride still. Nibali has put time into all his GC contenders and he doesnt have to defend the lead over the next few stages.

Liquigas were just short of the win too, four seconds back, but they simply ran out of firepower.

Leopard take the stage and the first leader's jersey of the race.

1 Leopard-Trek 0:16:30
2 Liquigas-Cannondale 0:16:35
3 HTC-Highroad 0:16:40
4 Pro Team Astana 0:16:40
5 Movistar Team 0:16:45
6 Quick-Step 0:16:45
7 Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:16:48
8 Skil-Shimano 0:16:48
9 Team Garmin-Cervélo 0:16:55
10 Katusha 0:16:56
11 Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:16:58
12 BMC 0:16:58
13 Saxo Bank-Sungard 0:16:58
14 RadioShack 0:16:59
15 Rabobank 0:17:00
16 Lampre-ISD 0:17:02
17 Cofidis 0:17:03
18 Vacansoleil-DCM 0:17:09
19 Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:17:12
20 Team Sky 0:17:12
21 Geox-TMC 0:17:14
22 Andalucia-Caja Granada 0:17:33

Thanks for joining us today. Fuglsang is in yellow, a number of GC riders have lost time, and we're set up for three weeks of great racing. Join us tomorrow for more.

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