Sky stole victory from Movistar by less than half a second in the opening stage of La Vuelta a Espana. Posting the first serious time of the day , Orica-BikeExchange (OBE) finished third fastest only six seconds down.  

Chris Froome unhooked from the Sky train in Kennaugh's rush for the line, the lanky leader just making it back in time to stop the clock with his team at 30 minutes and 37 seconds.

Sky's advantage over "minute men" Movistar dwindled from a six second lead at the second checkpoint to less than half a second at the finish. 

Last down the ramp, Tinkoff lost 40 seconds somewhere after the first checkpoint where they posted the seventh fastest time, just nine seconds behind Sky. Contador's team limped over the finish line guaranteeing Sky's victory and the Spaniard now stares at a 52 second disadvantage to major rivals Froome and Quintana. 

BMC dueled it out with OBE for check point honours, the red and blacks edged  by hundredths of a second at the first marker but six seconds faster at the final checkpoint. But BMC couldn't match OBE's final efforts, the Australian team in the hot seat until Movistar passed through four teams later.  

Sunday 21 Aug 2016

Kennaugh crossed the line first with Sky in the opening stage which put him into the red jersey.

He also claimed all the jerseys available including points (green), combined (white), and mountains (blue polka dots). 

Peter Kennaugh: 

"I think starting off hard (was key). Sometimes we're a bit cautious and riders want to start off easier - but  a team time trial is not supposed to be easy. You can't just give away 10 seconds in the first 5km as you'll never get it back. You can't be scared to fail and you can't be scared to hurt yourself - which is exactly what we did.

"I didn't have the best April and then I was getting back in form into May. So I was obviously a bit gutted to break my collarbone when I did.  

"I've trained hard and I've done everything for the bike the last two months. At Burgos I felt really good and I knew I was coming into form again."

 

 

Quintana:

"I'm happy with the overall performance by the team, yet a bit sad as we couldn't win despite finishing with the same time as Sky.

"We took advantage of the big squad we brought here; it was a compact group, not only consisting of specialists, rather than a well-bonded, all-around team, which put on a good effort on the road today.

"My legs were feeling great today; I just hope they remain the same for the rest of the race."

Alejandro Valverde:

"We rode strong and did things right.

"My feelings were of pure struggle, because that's how you've got to feel in a team time trial - it all builds on agony.

It's awful to lose by such a short margin and not being able to wear the leader's jersey, but when you leave all on the road, you can't ask yourself for anything else. We're overall happy about how things went for us today."

OBE nearly pulled off a dream result for Damien Howson in the TTT. Leading his team mates over the line with the fastest time at that point, the young Australian looked set to pull on the red leader's jersey. 

But the 30 minutes and 37 seconds posted by both Movistar and Sky on the 27.8km course was just six painful seconds too fast. 

“It was very close, we crossed the finish line and obviously there were a few teams behind us so we weren’t sure of our result,” Howson said. 

“We put in a very strong ride and when you give it everything in a flawless ride as we did, you can walk away happy with the performance.”

“It’s a huge honour for me to lead the team over the line on the opening stage of the Vuelta a Espana and start with a positive result. The team decided on the bus that if it was possible for me to cross the finish line first then that’s way everyone wanted it to pan out.

“It’s a wonderful gesture from the guys and I don’t think they realise how much this means to me, I can't thank them enough.”

But the real winner from OBE after today's TTT is team leader Esteban Chaves only six seconds behind major rivals Froome and Quintana and 46 seconds ahead of Contador. 

 

With a cycling star as big as Alberto Contador, a cookie cutter PR answer in the face of a 52 second deficit on Quintana and Froome was expected. 

And it's what we got. 

Contador:

"It is always hard to start with a team time trial after a week of slow training but I feel very well. The team gave its best today. We all raced at 100% of our potential and I don't think we could have done something differently.

"Starting the Vuelta with a 50 second deficit on your main rivals is difficult but I'm satisfied with how we raced. It will be a long Vuelta, we have 20 stages ahead of us and we will seize all the opportunities we get.

"We will take it day-by-day and see where we can make a difference."

DS Steven de Jongh:

“It was a difficult one, but there were no surprises from the course.

"The start was good, but after 10km some riders weren't going to well so they had to sit on.

"Michael Gogl, Manuele Boaro, Daniele Bennati and Alberto had to do more and I think we lost some time there, but the race is long still and we can look ahead now.“

De Jongh's answer goes some way to explaining the 40 seconds Tinkoff lost out on course after finishing just nine seconds behind Sky at the first checkpoint. 

 

First check point (9.4kms)

  1. ORICA BIKEEXCHANGE in 10' 32''
  2. BMC in 10' 32''
  3. SKY in 10' 35'' at 0' 03''
  4. LOTTO NL -JUMBO in 10' 38'' at 0' 06''
  5. ETIXX QUICKSTEP in 10' 41'' at 0' 09''
  6. MOVISTAR in 10' 43'' at 0' 11''
  7. TINKOFF in 10' 44'' at 0' 12''
  8. FDJ in 10' 54'' at 0' 22''
  9. BORA-ARGON 18  in 10' 55'' at 0' 23''
  10. CANNONDALE-DRAPAC in 10' 57'' at 0' 25''
  11. COFIDIS in 11' 02'' at 0' 30''
  12. LOTTO SOUDAL in 11' 02'' at 0' 30''
  13. KATUSHA in 11' 03'' at 0' 31''
  14. TREK-SEGAFREDO in 11' 04'' at 0' 32''
  15. DIMENSION DATA in 11' 04'' at 0' 32''
  16. ASTANA in 11' 05'' at 0' 33''
  17. CAJA RURAL In 11' 09'' at 0' 37''
  18. IAM CYCLING in 11' 11'' at 0' 39''
  19. DIRECT ENERGIE in 11' 12'' at 0' 40''
  20. TEAM GIANT ALPECIN in 11' 13'' at 0' 41''
  21. AG2R in 11' 16'' at 0' 44''
  22. LAMPRE-MERIDA in 11' 29'' at 0' 57'

Second check point (18.2kms)

  1. BMC in 20' 08''
  2. ORICA BIKEEXCHANGE in 20' 14'' at 0' 06''
  3. SKY in 20' 15'' at 0' 07''
  4. LOTTO NL -JUMBO in 20' 15'' at 0' 07''
  5. MOVISTAR in 20' 21'' at 0' 13''
  6. ETIXX QUICKSTEP in 20' 26'' at 0' 18''
  7. BORA-ARGON 18 in 20' 40'' at 0' 32''
  8. TINKOFF in 20' 45'' at 0' 37''
  9. FDJ in 20' 48'' at 0' 40''
  10. CANNONDALE-DRAPAC in 20' 49'' at 0' 41''
  11. ASTANA in 20' 49'' at 0' 41''
  12. TREK-SEGAFREDO in 20' 52'' at 0' 44''
  13. KATUSHA in 20' 58'' at 0' 50''
  14. LOTTO SOUDAL in 20' 59'' at 0' 51''
  15. DIMENSION DATA in 20' 59'' at 0' 51''
  16. IAM CYCLING in 21' 02'' at 0' 54''
  17. COFIDIS in 21' 05'' at 0' 57''
  18. DIRECT ENERGIE in 21' 13'' at 1' 05''
  19. GIANT ALPECIN in 21' 18'' at 1' 10''
  20. CAJA RURAL in 21' 19'' at 1' 11''
  21. AG2R  in 21' 20'' at 1' 12''
  22. LAMPRE-MERIDA in 21' 40'' at 1' 32'

Finish line (27.8kms)

  1. SKY in 30' 37''
  2. MOVISTAR TEAM MOV in 30' 37''
  3. ORICA BIKEEXCHANGE in 30' 43'' at 0' 06''
  4. BMC in 30' 44'' at 0' 07''
  5. ETIXX-QUICKSTEP in 30' 59'' at 0' 22''
  6. TREK-SEGAFREDO in 31' 27'' at 0' 50''
  7. CANNONDALE-DRAPAC... CDT in 31' 29'' at 0' 52''
  8. TINKOFF In 31' 29'' at 0' 52''
  9. BORA-ARGON 18 BOA in 31' 34'' at 0' 57''
  10. ASTANA in 31' 35'' at 0' 58''
  11. FDJ in 31' 42'' at 1' 05''
  12. IAM CYCLING in 31' 50'' at 1' 13''
  13. KATUSHA in 31' 54'' at 1' 17''
  14. DIMENSION DATA in 31' 54'' at 1' 17''
  15. LOTTO SOUDAL in 32' 04'' at 1' 27''
  16. COFIDIS in 32' 11'' at 1' 34''
  17. CAJA RURAL in 32' 13'' at 1' 36''
  18. AG2R in 32' 25'' at 1' 48''
  19. GIANT ALPECIN 32' 27'' at 1' 50''
  20. DIRECT ENERGIE in 32' 32'' at 1' 55''
  21. LOTTO NL-JUMBO in 32' 42'' at 2' 05''
  22. LAMPRE-MERIDA in 32' 45'' at 2' 08''