Movistar Wins Vuelta a Espana's TTT
Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (both from Movistar) are in the catbird seat at the Vuelta a Espana 2014. Their teammates put them there by winning Stage 1, a flat, 12.6-km team time trial at Jerez de la Frontera, in 14:13. Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge finished second and third, respectively, at 0:06. Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) is the race’s first red jersey.
MTN-Qhubeka was simply trying to limit its losses. The African squad succeeded and set the early standard. The team posted a 14:42. Cofidis and Europcar were unable to better this time, but Giant-Shimano did when it stopped the clock in 14:29. Orica-GreenEdge, one of the world’s best teams against the clock, took the lead from Giant-Shimano despite not having its usual lineup. Cannondale, however, bumped the Australian squad from the top of the leaderboard by less than a second.
The teams that were expected to furnish GC contenders started later. BMC, which was expected to do well on behalf of Cadel Evans, finished 0:15 slower than Cannondale. Trek rode better than BMC, but the Luxembourger squad finished three seconds behind the leaders. Belkin, which was riding for Wilco Kelderman, finished seventh at 0:19. Lotto-Belisol, Garmin-Sharp, and Sky finished 0:24, 0:35, and 0:21 in arrears, respectively. Cannondale was beginning to look like a surprise winner.
Three teams were on the road: Omega Pharma-Quick Step, the world team time trial champion; Tinkoff-Saxo Bank, which was riding on behalf of Alberto Contador; and Movistar. Omega Pharma-Quick Step did not have its world championship winning lineup and finished 0:05 behind Cannondale, while Tinkoff-Saxo Bank finished 0:13 slower than the Italian squad.
At the time check, Movistar was 0:05 down on Cannondale. The Spanish squad, with time trial specialists Adriano Malori and Castroviejo leading the charge, made good the deficit on the second half of the course. Castroviejo led the team across the finish line to take the red jersey.
Barring a mishap, creating big time gaps on a course as short as today’s is impossible. However, the teams and their GC hopefuls attempted to position themselves advantageously for the days to come. Obvously, Movistar did best in this regard. Co-captains Quintana and Valverde lead their competition. BMC put Evans in the next best position among the GC hopefuls with its ninth place finish at 0:21. Sky, which supports Chris Froome, turned in a disappointing result, finishing 11th at 0:27. Astana and Lotto-Belisol, which are riding for Fabio Aru and Jurgen Van Den Broeck, respectively, finished 0:30 behind the winners. Katusha, which is riding for Joaquim Rodriguez, ceded 0:38 and finished 16th, while Garmin-Sharp, which boasts the triumvirate of Dan Martin, Ryder Hesjedal, and Andrew Talansky, finished 18th at 0:41, with FDJ.fr, which has Thibaut Pinot as captain, took 19th at 0:45.
In the overall, Castroviejo leads teammates Valverde and Amadey Amador. Stage 2 probably will not change this state of affairs. The flat, 174.4-km run from Algeciras to San Fernando will have a long, flat run to the finish. A sprinter will take this stage. Who will it be? Peter Sagan (Cannondale)? Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr)? Tom Bonnen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!