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MARBELLA, Spain (AFP) — BMC Racing claimed victory in the opening team time trial of the Vuelta a España on Saturday. Tinkoff-Saxo earned runner-up honors just one second behind BMC, and Orica-GreenEdge took third on the same time.
Times taken on the day will not count towards the general classification after a UCI decision to neutralize the stage from a GC standpoint due to safety concerns with the route, but BMC’s performance goes down as a grand tour stage victory regardless.
After crossing the line, Tejay van Garderen said that BMC had been “on the fence” at the start of the day as to whether to put in the effort to fight for the win on the controversial route, but the team ultimately decided to honor its title as the reigning world champion squad in the TTT and go full gas in the opening stage. The decision paid off, netting the team a win. Peter Velits took control of the leader’s red jersey as he was first rider to cross the line for BMC in the team time trial.
“There was a bit of sand, a bit of rubber, a bit on the pier … It was definitely a crazy course, not one I would have wanted to ride, but when we are world champions, we have to do the stripes proud. We felt obligated to give it ago,” van Garderen said.
“There were certainly some corners where we were on the limit. We all felt safe and we were all confident on the bike.”
Chris Froome, who is hoping to become just the third rider in history to win the Tour de France and the Vuelta in the same year, had been among those expressing concern at the route earlier this week, and he and his Sky squad cruised through the stage without taking any risks. Sky finished in 20th on the stage, over a minute behind BMC.
“Our goal today was just to stay safe,” said Sky’s Geraint Thomas. “It’s a big disappointment really to have a neutralized stage like that because we were all looking forward to riding a good TTT, going full gas, and having a good race.
“When the organizers said there weren’t going to be any times taken for the GC, we decided to take it easy and stay upright.
“If everyone had have gone flat out, it might have been quite dangerous.”
Most of the other race favorites did likewise as Nairo Quintana’s Movistar finished ninth with an Astana team containing Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa down in 13th.
The Vuelta continues Sunday with a 158.7km stage 2 from Alhaurín de la Torre to Caminito del Rey.
Stage 1 results
- 1. Bmc Racing Team, in 8:10
- 2. Tinkoff – Saxo, at :01
- 3. Orica Greenedge, at :01
- 4. Team Lotto Nl – Jumbo, at :08
- 5. Etixx – Quick Step, at :10
- 6. Trek Factory Racing, at :11
- 7. Lotto Soudal, at :18
- 8. Caja Rural-Seguros Rga, at :18
- 9. Movistar Team, at :24
- 10. Cofidis, Solutions Credits, at :27
- 11. Iam Cycling, at :27
- 12. Lampre – Merida, at :27
- 13. Astana Pro Team, at :30
- 14. Mtn – Qhubeka, at :30
- 15. Colombia, at :33
- 16. Fdj, at :44
- 17. Team Katusha, at :54
- 18. Ag2R La Mondiale, at 1:00
- 19. Team Giant – Alpecin, at 1:07
- 20. Team Sky, at 1:11
- 21. Team Cannondale – Garmin, at 1:20
- 22. Team Europcar, at 2:15