BMC Racing Team Powers to Victory in Vuelta Team Time Trial
Following the exclusion of Samuel Sanchez from the Vuelta team roster after a non-negative doping test, BMC Racing Team got their Vuelta a España campaign off to an impressive and perfect start in Nîmes, France early this evening after a dominant display of strength and skill over the course of the opening team time trial saw them claim the stage win. The team's performance also put Rohan Dennis into the first leader's jersey of this year's Vuelta.
Rolling off the ramp as one of the favorites for the victory in the 13.7 kilometer team time trial, the BMC Racing Team quickly settled into a seamless rhythm as they looked to produce a faster time than the 00:16:04, which had been set by the Quick-Step Floors team.
After powering around the technical and demanding 13.7 km circuit in the narrow streets of Nimes, the finish line came into view, and with Dennis leading the final six riders across the line in powerful fashion, the clock stopped at a remarkable 15:58.
Following their performance, the BMC riders had to cope with a wait in the hot seat, while the remaining teams contested the stage, trying to beat BMC's finishing time. In the end, BMC Racing Team was the only team to go under the 16-minute mark that, therefore, proved enough to seal the victory on stage 1 with Dennis securing the red leader's jersey.
"Everything went to plan today, and we executed our TTT perfectly. I think we were still a little bit nervous when Team Sky came in and I thought that we had maybe lost it on the line, but in the end, we came out as the strongest team," Vuelta leader Dennis explained to Roadcycling.com.
"It was a hard course. It wasn't just a straightforward time trial. It was technical at the start, and we had to tactically figure out if it was better to finish at the top of the hill with nine riders or if we drop a few guys. The course tested everything: strength, technique, and speed. You had to be the best in every aspect, and we showed our true power today."
The QuickStep Floors team delivered a strong performance on the technical route to finish in second place, just six seconds behind BMC. Featuring Wilco Kelderman and Warren Barguil, team Sunweb took third in the same time as QuickStep.
Tour de France champion Chris Froome leads Team Sky in this year's Vuelta, hoping to secure the Tour/Vuelta double. Today, he and his Sky teammates lost nine seconds to race leader Dennis, who has developed into a decent general classification rider.
"That was a really solid start for us. Compared to a lot of the other main GC rivals I think we can be really happy with how that’s turned out," Froome commented.
"The main thing today was for there not to be any massive mistakes or mishaps out on the road and to actually make time on most of our GC rivals is a great position to be in going into the first few stages of the race. The guys were fantastic. They were really solid. It definitely gives me a lot of confidence in the team for the three weeks to come."
Orica-Scott concluded today's team time trial 17 seconds slower than the winners. The team's general classification hopefuls Esteban Chaves and brothers Sean and Adam Yates remain determined to show the other favorites in the peloton what the strong trio can do on the roads of France and Spain.
Bora-Hansgrohe, with Rafal Majka, set a fast time early in today's initial challenge of this year's Vuelta a Espana, but their team performance was devalued once the stronger teams were set free on today's route and Majka and co lost 21 seconds to BMC.
"It’s good, the boys did a great job. It’s just the first stage of the Vuelta and when you look into the third week, I don’t think five or ten seconds will decide the race. It was important to find a good rhythm and come home without any crashes. So, I think we did our job today and compared to some other GC guys our time was quite good," Majka said.
Tomorrow's stage 2 of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana will be a 203.4 kilometer flat stage from Nîmes to Gruissan, France. Look for sprint aces from various teams to battle towards the finish line - or for a rider who's well-positioned in the general classification to attempt to trick the sprinters and thereby win the stage by a narrow margin large enough to take the red leader's jersey from Dennis.
Wind may play a significant role in tomorrow's stage and may result in echelons being formed - so general classification favorites should remain on high alert at the front of the peloton thoughout the stage.
"We know there is the chance of some wind tomorrow, and I spoke to Loïc Vliegen about a similar circuit they did at Route du Sud, and he said it was very windy along the beach so, it's going to be tough, but for us, we're not here to sprint," Dennis said.
2017 Vuelta a Espana - stage 1 results:
1 BMC Racing Team 00:15:58
2 Quick-Step Floors Pro Cycling Team 0:00:06
3 Team Sunweb
4 Team Sky Pro Cycling 0:00:09
5 Orica-Scott 0:00:17
6 Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:21
7 Lotto-Soudal 0:00:24
8 Movistar Team
9 Bahrain-Merida 0:00:31
10 Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:33
11 Trek-Segafredo 0:00:35
12 Team FDJ 0:00:38
13 Aqua Blue Sport
14 Dimension Data 0:00:39
15 LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:40
16 Astana 0:00:41
17 Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:46
18 AG2R La Mondiale
19 UAE Team Emirates 6:29:02
20 Manzana Postobon 0:00:53
21 Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:00:56
22 Cofidis 0:00:57
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