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Vuelta a Espana

Rod Ellingworth happy with strong Vuelta a España start for Richard Carapaz

Ineos Grenadiers deputy principal calls their Vuelta TTT a "bloody good ride" while white jersey wearer Hayter reflects on grand tour debut.

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UTRECHT, Netherlands (VN) – Ineos Grenadiers had to settle for second place in the Vuelta a España opener around Utrecht. However, team principal Rod Ellingworth was content after their second place finish, 13 seconds down on winners Jumbo-Visma over the 23.3-kilometer course.

“We’re pretty happy with that result,” Ellingworth said by the team bus afterwards. “We knew Jumbo had maybe the strongest team, we knew we were in with a shout but we also knew Quick Step would be close as well.

“You always want to win, of course you do, but it is what it is. I’m pretty sure the lads will say they couldn’t have done a lot more,” he added. “So that’s all you can ask of them. The DSs came back and said it was a good, solid ride for the whole team.”

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Rain was a possibility but while only light drops fell on the course, there’s no playing it safe in a TTT. “The thing is with team time trialling, you can’t go in with a let’s go easy attitude. Yeah, there’s another 20 days to go but you’ve still got to go at it pretty hard,” Ellingworth said.

“And you can sort of see, the gaps were big enough to warrant pushing and seeing what happened.”

Richard Carapaz, whose move to EF Education-EasyPost was announced today, finds himself a second ahead of Remco Evenepoel. He’s also 18 seconds in front of Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) and 28 seconds up on Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe)

Prep pays off for Ineos Grenadiers

The squad had prepared assiduously for days, reserving a 2-kilometer cycling circuit at on the city outskirts to work on speedwork and the technical side Tuesday. They mirrored the demands of the Utrecht TTT, a mix of early corners and long straights. “It’s like taking a trailer through a corner,” sports director Oli Cookson said of the effort required.

Jumbo-Visma took 17 seconds out of them at the halfway time check, but lost four to them over the rest of the race. “Through the technical section, they’ve taken out more time but through the bit the engines are needed, we’ve gained,” Ellingworth said.

“It’s interesting to see. You look at their team on paper, you’d definitely put them down as winning this stage with the time triallists they’ve got. I think our lads have put in a bloody good ride there.”

Early gains for Carapaz

So, what does this mean for the rest of the Vuelta and Richard Carapaz? “It’s seconds one day, minutes another day. But it’s just nice for the lads: they will come back buzzing after that, obviously they’re disappointed not to have won the stage but each individual will be happy with their performance, I’m sure.”

“And for Richard [Cara[az], it’s a nice little start. Within a time trial environment, he’s gained some pretty good time on other GC riders so that’s good.”

Ellingworth also talked of the importance of “weaning in the four new guys” and was encouraged by the rides of grand tour debutants Luke Plapp, Carlos Rodriguez, Ben Turner and Ethan Hayter, who will don the white jersey of best young rider.

“It was quite a special race day. It was so noisy with the crowds along the course,” Hayter said. “It’s just a shame we finished second but it was a pretty nice atmosphere.

“Second is always a tough place to come but naturally it was a really good ride from us.” The young Briton will now look to get in the bunch sprint mix on stage 2 and 3 in the Netherlands.

While it wasn’t quite four wins from four, Ellingworth still enjoyed the big picture of a flying Friday for the Ineos Grenadiers. “We’ve had a good day. Not just the results here, Tom Pidcock’s [European mountain biking] result, Dan [Bigham]’s result, Magnus [Sheffield] leading in Denmark – four different activities today for our riders and I think we’re all on the money.”