Stage 1: Porto Banus - Marbella
BMC Racing won the opening team time trial of the Vuelta a España, setting a time just one hundredth of a second faster than Tinkoff-Saxo. The American outfit finished with the minimum of five riders with Peter Velits leading them over the line to take the first red jersey.
"Being world champions, that gives us a certain responsibility to put it out on the line and go for it," Tejay van Garderen said at the end of the stage. "The tactic that we had was perfect. On a course like this you can’t really go much faster with more than five guys so we picked five guys to bring it to the end and we had three guys to line it out from the start and do a one kilo effort full gas and pull off. Then the five guys at the end hammered it to the line. To be honest, I don’t remember much of it, it went by so quickly. We’re super happy with the win and I couldn’t be happier for Peter Velits to take the jersey."
BMC were the fifth from last team to roll down the start ramp as the sun began to fall in the sky and the temperatures became just about bearable. There was no time in the general classification at risk but pride and a stage victory was at stake over the 7.4-kilometre time trial. It was clear from the off that BMC were going for it and they were soon down to just five riders. As they approached the final straight, it looked like they might have been outdone but they squeezed past Tinkoff-Saxo by an impossibly small margin.
BMC also won the Tour de France team time trial in July by a similarly small gap over Team Sky, but this time they didn’t have a tense wait as all the teams after them went slower. In fact, there was less than a second separating the top three, with Orica-GreenEdge just half a second behind Tinkoff-Saxo. It was another disappointment for Peter Sagan who led the Tinkoff team over the line and would have worn the red jersey. Instead, he was given a familiar reward of the green jersey.
"For us it was ok. It was a little bit technical, a little bit narrow roads, a bit like Strade Bianche but it was good. We tried and for one second, maybe because of my name, we finished second again," Sagan joked after stepping on the podium.
It was a scorching start to the day for the early riders, with MTN-Qhubeka kicking things off. The South African team set a solid time but that was soon beaten by LottoNL-Jumbo who set the first serious looking time of 8:18. Their benchmark would stand for quite some time, until Orica-GreenEdge beat them by seven seconds. The Australian team’s arrival marked the halfway point and they would be happy to see pre-stage favourites Trek Factory Racing come over the line in provisional fourth place.
Orica-GreenEdge were only able to enjoy their time at the top for 10 minutes before Tinkoff-Saxo shoved them off by only half a second. Etixx-QuickStep had designs on taking the victory but they failed and there were some cross words between the teammates after the finish line. Just when Tinkoff-Saxo thought they might be about to take the stage win, BMC slipped in to beat them by a a second.
The remaining teams, Astana, Movistar, Sky and Katusha were all content with making it home in one piece. None of them threatened the race lead, with Sky finishing in a time of 9:21. For them, the real race will begin in Sunday with the first mountain stage.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||BMC Racing Team||0:08:10|
|5||Etixx - Quick-Step||0:00:10|
|6||Trek Factory Racing||0:00:11|
|8||Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|10||Cofidis, Solutions Credits||0:00:27|
|14||MTN - Qhubeka|
|18||AG2R La Mondiale||0:01:00|
|21||Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||0:01:20|
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