Movistar's Moreno notches his first win of the season in Ruta del Sol's stage 1b time trial. Contador takes overall lead after first day

MADRID (AFP) — Spain’s Javi Moreno (Movistar) won the individual time trial in the second part of a split opening stage at the Ruta del Sol on Wednesday. His fellow countryman, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) claimed an early eight-second advantage over Chris Froome (Team Sky) and the overall race lead.

“To be honest, the first one surprised about today’s result is myself, so much that, when I clocked the best time, I was pretty sure I would get out of the hot seat quickly — but riders went, and on and on, and [my] smile was bigger and bigger,” said Moreno. “Today’s TT was a matter of taking as much risks as possible. There was a long straight and that could favor pure specialists, but the road wasn’t really good; turns were a bit covered in dust too — the secret was going a step further than normal. I had nothing to save for other days as I lost out on my GC chances with the crashes in the morning, so I gave my 100 percent.”

Moreno’s time of 9:51 over the 8.2-kilometer course through Coria del Rio edged out Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Jerome Coppel (Cofidis) by two and four seconds respectively.

“Too bad. I just miss out on a victory, but I gave my all,” Kelderman said. “Today’s course was perfect for me, technically and difficult. … This result is a real confidence-booster.”

Contador was six seconds back, in fourth, but that was enough to take the race leader’s red jersey with Froome finishing 10th in the time trial. The Briton is now fourth overall.

With no bonus seconds on offer for stage winners, Contador will have the advantage as the two battle for overall victory across two mountaintop finishes on Friday and Saturday before a more sprinter-friendly final stage on Sunday.

“It was a very explosive stage with constant changes of pace,” said Contador. “I am happy with the result, but to be leading is merely representative; the race has just begun. The really tough bit is to come in a few days.”

Neither Contador nor Froome were affected by a crash-ridden first stage of the day in which Dutchman Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Soudal) sprinted to victory ahead of Portugal’s Fabio Silvestre (Trek Factory Racing) and Slovenian Grega Bole (CCC-Sprandi-Polkowice).

The Lotto-Soudal rider won the 118.3-kilometer ride from La Rabida to Hinojos in Andalusia by two seconds after a crash three kilometers from the finish split the peloton in two.

Thursday’s 191.7km second stage, the longest of the five-day race in Andalusia, takes the riders from Utrera to Lucena.