Live coverage of the opening stage of the 2017 Vuelta, a 13.7km team time trial in Nîmes, France.
Hello there and a warm welcome to Cyclingnews' live race centre for the Vuelta a España. That's right, the third and final Grand Tour of the 2017 season is upon us, and we'll be right here, at live.cyclingnews.com, throughout the three weeks for full blow-by-blow coverage of every single stage. Today we're in Nimes as the race gets underway on French soil with a team time trial. The first team will be off in less than an hour, and less than two hours after that we'll know the winners and the wearer of the first red jersey of the 2017 Vuelta.
This is what the teams are up against today. There's a gentle climb in the middle but nothing serious, though the multiple twists and turns on the city-centre route make it a tricky one.
Colombian wildcard team Manzana Postobon kick things off at 17.30 local time, and then the teams will set off at four-minute intervals, all the way through to the final team, Trek-Segafredo (Alberto Contador is wearing the number 1 dossard in his final Vuelta and final race), who are off at 18.54.
If you haven't already, this is probably a good time to have a read of Alasdair Fotheringham's Vuelta preview. Chris Froome's unfinished business, a mountainous route that gets increasingly difficult in the second half, and a list of contenders that could spring a few surprises. It's all in here.
It's hot in Nîmes, in the south of France, with the mercury pushing 35 degrees. Clear skies, little wind, but lots of fans.
@mattrabin Sat, 19th Aug 2017 15:09:25
Plenty of fans (this photo is from yesterday) are gathering in the Nîmes arena, a Roman amphitheatre that's doubling up as a handy stadium for a cycling race. The fans in there will be able to see the riders as they zip straight through the middle of the arena in the early kilometres.
Manzana Postobon are readying themselves and will be away in five minutes.
Here's a rather more recent photo of the amphitheatre!
@FFCyclisme Sat, 19th Aug 2017 15:03:23
Manzana Postobon, in their bright pink kit, get the Vuelta underway. Ahead of them, 13.7km.
The Colombian team are quickly into formation but soon a couple of technical corners shake things up a bit.
Next up are Lotto Soudal, who have a strange team here - no real GC man or sprinter, though Thomas De Gendt is present and correct and presumably ready to throw himself into every possible breakaway over the next three weeks.
The Belgian team are underway.
Lotto Soudal rattle through the amphitheatre and make it safely through the turn on exit. The same cant be said for a number of riders during a warm-up session earlier today, as Quick-Step's David de la Cruz and Cannondale's Joe Dombrowski hit the deck. Both were unharmed.
Next down the ramp is Dimension Data.
Cannondale-Drapac have just started their ride. They lost Andrew Talansky and Davide Formolo before the race, so they're here to just 'pick the ball up and run with it', according to DS Tom Southam. Full story at the link below.
Manzana Postobon are still together with seven riders and are approaching the line now.
Manzana Postobon stop the clock on 16:51.
Aqua Blue Sport are underway and through the arena. The Irish Pro Conti team is making its Grand Tour debut here, in its first season of existence. A big achievement for them, just to be here.
FDJ are the next team off the ramp, on home French soil. They're here with a mixed team of stage hunters. Normally they're poor in time trials but in the past couple of years big improvements have been made at the team.
Lotto Soudal stop the clock on 16.22 - nearly half a minute quicker than Manzana.
@AquaBlueSport Sat, 19th Aug 2017 15:48:52
The wind has picked up considerably.
Bora-Hansgrohe are off, led by Rafal Majka, who finished on the podium here in 2015.
Dimension Data hit the line, setting a time of 16:37.
Joe Dombrowski is off the back of the Cannondale-Drapac line. The lightweight American is hardly known for his rouleur capabilities but even so that's slightly worrying, especially if he has any ambitions of trying his hand at GC.
And the Cannondale riders stop the clock on 16:44 - third fastest out of four so far.
Cofidis are off the start ramp. Another French team, this time a Pro Conti outfit and a Vuelta regular.
UAE Team Emirates are on the ramp now, ready to go. They have Louis Meintjes and Rui Costa here, along with Darwin Atapuma for mountain stages and Sacha Modolo for sprints. They're unlikely to threaten for the stage win in this TTT.
Here come Aqua Blue. They're not going to take the lead, but they'll slot in second quickest for now with 16:36.
I was just writing that we've not yet had a crash on this technical course, and then two UAE riders misjudge a bend just before the entrance to the amphitheatre. One of them is Atapuma. They're up and running quickly, but they're not going to get back on to that train now.
Caja Rural are off now. The Vuelta is the biggest race of the season for the Spanish Pro Conti team.
FDJ come to the line now with the minimum quota of five riders still together. Like Aqua Blue, they stop the clock on 16:36, but they're a tenth of a second quicker.
And now here come Bora, and this is looking good...
16:19 for Bora! That's enough to take the provisional lead, and that's a decent start for Rafal Majka. His main rivals still to come, of course.
Sunweb are off now.
Sunweb have started strongly, and look smooth through the corners, though Johannes Frohlinger is dangling off the back already.
Cofidis are heading towards the line as Ilnur Zakarin's Katusha-Alpecin get going.
16:55 for Cofidis - that's the slowest of the lot so far.
Zakarin could be a real threat at this Vuelta. He finished fifth at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year, and is one of the contenders here without the Tour de France in the legs. He can time trial as well as climb, and continues to grow in experience.
UAE stop the clock on 16:45. That's 7th quickest so far, and not all that bad considering they lost Atapuma and Zurlo early on.
Atapuma and Zurlo cross the line a couple of minutes back on their teammates.
Quick-Step Floors are on the ramp. They're here with David de la Cruz and Bob Jungels for the overall.
Caja Rural, with seven riders, stop the clock on 16:54.
Sunweb are indeed heading for a good time. They were quickest at the intermediate checkpoint.
Sunweb hit the line and stop the clock on 16:04. That's the quickest time so far by 15 seconds.
Bahrain-Merida roll down the start ramp, and it's all about Vincenzo Nibali for them. The Italian finished on the podium at the Giro and is widely seen as Chris Froome's biggest threat for the red jersey here.
16:31 for Katusha-Alpecin.
LottoNL-Jumbo are off the ramp. They'll need a strong time for leader Steven Kruijswijk, while they also have George Bennett as a GC option.
More crashes, this time for LottoNL. Antwan Tolhoek hits the deck and Floris De Tier can do nothing but ride straight into his teammate.
Here come Astana on the approach to the line, and they've been down to the bare five for a while now. Fabio Aru is safely in there. The clock is stopped on 16:39 - eighth quickest so far.
BMC are off the ramp now. They are true TTT specialists and will be disappointed with anything that's not stage victory today.
Another former World Championship-winning team, Quick-Step Floors, are heading for the line now, and this could be our quickest time as they drop down to five.
16:04 for Quick-Step! That's dead level with Sunweb. I think they'll shade that by a hair, but we await confirmation.
AG2R-La Mondiale are off the ramp. They have Romain Bardet and Domenico Pozzovivo for GC, and both are terrible time triallists, so will need a lot of protection out there today.
Confirmed - Quick-Step have the quickest time so far.
@quickstepteam Sat, 19th Aug 2017 16:38:57
Orica-Scott are underway, with their exciting three-pronged attack of Esteban Chaves, Adam Yates, and Simon Yates.
Vincenzo Nibali crosses the line now, flanked by four Bahrain-Merida teammates. They set a time of 16:29.
"It wasn't technical, it was super dangerous," Quick-Step's Matteo Trentin tells Eurosport, clearly unhappy with the twisty nature of the course, with narrow roads to boot. He's happier with his team's time - "I don't think we could have done much more."
Movistar get their Vuelta underway. Alejandro Valverde was supposed to be their leader here but then came that crash on the opening day of the Tour de France. Carlos Betancur is here, and then they have a couple of young hopes in Ruben Fernandez and Marc Soler.
16:38 for LottoNL, who lost two men from their train very early one.
BMC are fastest at the intermediate checkpoint, and they could be on their way to the hotseat here. They may even break the 16-minute barrier.
Movistar's Jorge Arcas is the latest rider to crash on one of the tight corners. He's in a little pain and is taking his time in getting going again.
@quickstepteam Sat, 19th Aug 2017 16:49:16
Not for long, Quick-Step. Here come BMC, with six riders still in there, and they stop the clock on 15:58. The American team takes the lead!
With Rohan Dennis and Daniel Oss in the line-up, BMC were always going to be in contention for the stage win. Orica, Sky and Trek still to come.
Chris Froome gets his Vuelta underway as Sky roll down the ramp. Is this the year the Briton finally wins the Vuelta?
Barry Ryan has written about Froome's seven-year quest for the red jersey, charting his fortunes ever since that stunning 2011 debut. Here's the full piece.
And now for Trek-Segafredo, the final team down the ramp. That's because Alberto Contador is wearing the number 1 dossard - not because he won it last year, but because the Vuelta is paying tribute to him in what's his final Vuelta and final ever race.
Bardet and Pozzovivo are still in tact as AG2R hit the line with a time of 16:44.
Flamme rouge for Orica, who have stayed together very nicely indeed.
@BMCProTeam Sat, 19th Aug 2017 16:58:31
16:15 for Orica - that's the fourth quickest time. The Aussie team has won Grand Tour TTT's in the past but that's very handy indeed considering their new-found GC focus, with three lightweight riders in there.
Movistar have shaken off that Arcas crash and are approaching the line with six riders. 16:22 is their time.
Team Sky are looking smooth out there, and they're six seconds down on BMC at the intermediate checkpoint, so that bodes pretty well for Froome.
A couple of shaky corners for Contador's Trek-Segafredo team.
Froome takes a big turn on the front of the Sky train as they come towards the finishing straight.
Sky hit the line with five riders and they clock 16:07, giving them the fourth quickest time - 9 seconds down on BMC.
So, Contador's Trek are the only team left out on the course. They're a few minutes away from finishing their ride.
Trek aren't going to set the fastest time. It's not looking strong at all, actually, as Contador grimaces on the approach to the line.
16:33 for Trek - the 11th quickest time.
Official: BMC Racing win stage 1 of the 2017 Vuelta a España
Rohan Dennis was the first rider over the line for BMC, so he'll pull on the first red jersey of this Vuelta as leader of the general classification.
So, the victory goes to BMC, putting an immediate gloss on what had started as a very unsavoury Vuelta for them after Samuel Sanchez was suspended for a positive anti-doping test.
As far as the general classification is concerned, it's advantage Froome, who has put 22 seconds into Nibali, 26 into Contador, and 32 into Aru.
Here are the provisional standings for the GC men
David de la Cruz (Quick-Step)
Bob Jungels (Quick-Step)
Chris Froome (Team Sky) +9 seconds
Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) +17 seconds
Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) +17 seconds
Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) +17 seconds
Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) +21 seconds
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +31 seconds
Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) +33 seconds
Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) +35 seconds
Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) +40 seconds
Fabio Aru (Astana) +41 seconds
Romain Bardet (AG2R) +46 seconds
Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R) +46 seconds
Louis Meintjes (UAE) +47 seconds
@lavuelta Sat, 19th Aug 2017 17:27:25
Dennis told a small group of reporters, talking before he won, that “it was a hard course, very technical to start and we really had to tactically figure out if it was better to finish with nine or drop a few beforehand. It tested everything, it tested strength, technique, speed and handling.
“I’m not too worried about GC on this year’s Vuelta, my goals were always Giro for GC, and then Vuelta I just want to go for some stages and test myself against some of the GC guys. Hopefully I can come away with a couple of stages.”
@lavuelta Sat, 19th Aug 2017 17:33:13
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