/ Cycling

Movistar lay down marker in Vuelta opening stage

Updated: Saturday, 23 Aug 2014 20:45 | Comments

Movistar won the team time trial first stage
Movistar won the team time trial first stage

Nairo Quintana's Movistar team made a major statement on the first day of the Vuelta a Espana with a surprise victory in the team time trial.

Quintana, the 24-year-old Colombian who won the Giro d'Italia earlier this year, was already the favourite for the final Grand Tour of the season and underlined that as his team gave him an early advantage.

Movistar, last off the ramp, finished six seconds clear of their nearest challengers over the short, sharp 12.6 kilometre circuit in Jerez de la Frontera, and picked up 19 seconds over Alberto Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo squad and 27 over Chris Froome and Irishman Philip Deignan's Team Sky.

Dan Martin's Garmin-Sharp team dropped even more time, conceding 41 seconds.

Jonathan Castroviejo crossed the line first for Movistar and will take the leader's red jersey.

Although short, the stage was highly technical, featuring 19 roundabouts and plenty more bends besides, and spills for both Froome and the entire Giant-Shimano squad in recon rides highlighted the dangers.

Although there were no crashes in the serious action, there were plenty of bruised hopes come the end.

Orica-GreenEdge have made team time trials a speciality of late and, powered towards the line by the 22-year-old Adam Yates, they set the early mark.

But there was a surprise when Cannondale, riding their final Grand Tour before merging with Garmin-Sharp at the end of the season, pipped them by a single second.

That time held until the very end, when Movistar - who also have former Vuelta winner Alejandro Valverde in their squad - powered towards the line in a stunning display of strength, having turned a five-second deficit at the mid-point into a six second lead.

In the process they took major chunks out of Quintana's rivals.
Six former Grand Tour winners are in a strong field for this year's Vuelta, with plenty of other contenders besides, but those not in Movistar colours have work to do.

Not even Tony Martin could help Omega Pharma-Quick Step keep up with Movistar, meaning Rigoberto Uran has already conceded 11 seconds to compatriot Quintana.

Former Tour winner Cadel Evans and his BMC Racing team gave up 21 seconds to finish two places ahead of Sky, who were 11th.

Astana's Fabio Aru finds himself 30 seconds in arrears while Katusha's Joaquin Rodriguez is 38 seconds down.

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