Movistar Wins Stage 1 of Vuelta a Espana
Movistar has won Stage 1 of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana. The Spanish squad tore over the flat, technical, 16.5-km course through Pamplona in 18:51. Rabobank and Omega Pharma-Quick Step finished second and third, respectively, at 0:10. Movistar Jonathan Castroviejo is the first leader of this year's Vuelta.
After lackluster early efforts by Caja Rural, Orica-GreenEdge, and Garmin-Sharp, BMC posted a 19:01. Until Rabobank crossed the finish line in the with the same time as BMC three quarters of an hour later, no team could touch the Swiss squad. Not much later, Omega Pharma-Quick Step stopped the clock in the same time as Rabobank and BMC.
Movistar was the day's last starter. The Spanish squad went through the time check 0:02 behind Sky, which had until that point posted the day's fastest intermediate time. Whereas Sky lost momentum, however, Movistar gained it. Defending champion Juan Jose Cobo lost 0:03 and finished as the sixth rider, but the preceding five finished in 18:51. Cobo and 2009 Vuelta winner Alejandro Valverde are well positioned for the battles to come.
Aside from Movistar, the big winners today were Sky, Lotto-Belisol, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, and Katusha. Sky and Lotto-Belisol, which were riding to support GC hopefuls Christopher Froome and Jurgen Van Den Broeck, respectively, finished fifth and sixth at 0:12. Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, which Alberto Contador captains, finished seventh at 0:14, while Katusha, with 2012 Giro d'Italia runnerup Joaquin Rodriguez at the helm, took eighth at 0:15.
In the overall, Castroviejo leads teammates Javier Moreno and Benat Intxausti by 0:01. Stage 2 will not change this state of affairs. The 181-km run from Pamplona to Viana will feature only one categorized climb, the Category 3 Alto de la Chapela, the summit of which will be more than 100 km from the finish. It all adds up to a sprint finish. Who will take it? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!