Etixx-QuickStep won the opening team time trial of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina on Monday, putting Argentine Maximiliano Richeze into the overall lead.
The Belgian WorldTour team put in a trademark well-drilled performance to clinch the opening stage, cruising ahead of second-placed Movistar and Nairo Quintana by eight seconds. Astana and Vincenzo Nibali placed third at 17 seconds.
The American UnitedHealthcare team put down the early marker of 24-47 on the 21-kilometre route, collectively staying in the hot seat for an extended period as their time bettered several of the WorldTour teams’ efforts.
As the remainder of the start list came through it wasn’t until Peter Sagan‘s Tinkoff squad finished that Unitedhealthcare’s time was bettered, before Etixx, Movistar and Astana also finished faster.
“This jersey comes as a reward for the work I have done,” said Richeze, who joined Etixx-QuickStep over the winter.
“My last victory came more than three years ago, so that’s what makes this moment even more important. On top of that, my brother Mauro is here, riding with the San Luis team, so it’s a double joy. I want to enjoy every second of this race, to take it day by day, but I also remain realistic and will continue working for the team from tomorrow on in order to land other strong results.”
All of the teams used standard road bikes with clip-on aero bars rather than specific time-trial machines, in what was the first ever Tour de San Luis TTT.
The 2016 Tour de San Luis continues on Tuesday with stage two from San Luis to Villa Mercedes over 182km. The relatively flat route is predicted to end in a bunch sprint, which may see Fernando Gaviria take over the lead from Etixx team-mate Richeze.
Tour de San Luis 2016, stage one: El Durazno to El Durazno, 21km
1. Etixx-QuickStep in 23-53
2. Movistar at 8 secs
3. Astana at 17 secs
4. Tinkoff at 23 secs
5. Unitedhealthcare at 54 secs
6. Ag2r at 56 secs
7. Delko Marseille Provence at 58 secs
8. Androni-Sidermec at 59 secs
9. Cannondale Pro Cycling at 59 secs
10. Drapac Pro Cycling at 1-00
Overall classification after stage one
1. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Etixx-QuickStep in 23-53
2. Rodrigo Contreras (Col) Etixx-QuickStep
3. Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Etixx-QuickStep
4. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Etixx-QuickStep
5. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Etixx-QuickStep
6. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 8 secs
7. Nairo Quintana (Spa) Movistar
8. Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar
9. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar
10. Dayer Quintana (Col) Movistar