Former world champion Lisa Brennauer blasts to time trial victory at Madrid Challenge

German rider defies wind and rain to take stage one victory in the two day Spanish race

German rider Lisa Brennauer won the opening stage time trial of the Madrid Challenge on Saturday despite wind and rain in the Spanish capital.

The 2014 world time trial champion tackled the 9.3km course in the worst conditions, with darkness gathering and torrential rain, beating Lucinda Brand (Sunweb) by four seconds.

Brand’s young Danish team mate Pernille Mathiesen was third, 13 seconds behind the winner.

The two stage race is organised by Vuelta Espana Organisers Unipublic, and is in its second edition as as a stage race. Last year the opening day was a team time trial, won by Sunweb, and organisers have tweaked the format this time round.

Brennauer has a decent sprint and could well be in a position to bid for the overall in Sunday’s second stage, however team mate Kirsten Wild is one of the world’s best sprinters and hoping for the win. Whatever, their WNT-Rotor squad will be gunning for the win, with their sponsor being owned by race backer Ceratizit.

How it happened

With thunderstorms predicted for the opening of two stages, the 9.3km stage had been tweaked, the route reversed to avoid some high speed bumps. These obstacles would have been painful to tackle at full speed, and the alteration certainly meant riders were less likely to come to grief on the painted surfaces in the wet.

The race though started in relatively calm conditions, the early starters having the best of the weather after the wet roads from earlier rain had dried.

Norwegian champion Vita Heine (Hitec Products) set the best of the early times, and her 13.19 stood at the top of the rankings for some time. She was only usurped when Olympic silver medalist Olga Zabalinskaya (Cogeas-Mettler-Look) two seconds out of her.

Once Mathiesen took the lead from Zabalinskaya the weather began closing in, the light draining from the day and torrential rain coming in regular bursts, and it seemed as though the Dane’s time may have been good enough to take the win.

However, Brand and Brennauer led a flurry of leading times which took the top spots.

Former double British champion Hayley Simmonds (BTC-City Ljubljana) finished 48 seconds behind Brennauer, preferring caution after being selected for the world championship time trial in just 10 days. 

Sunday’s second stage is little more than a criterium, following the city centre circuit used for the final stage of the Vuelta. 

The 17 lap race totals 98.6km 98.6km, though six intermediate sprints, each with a maximum of five bonus seconds will add interest and dynamism to the occasion.

Results
Ceratizit Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta: Boadilla del Monte: Boadilla del Monte (9.3km)
1. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) WNT-Rotor in 12-52
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb at 04 sec
3. Pernille Mathiesen (Den) Sunweb at 13 sec
4. Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels-Dolmans at 19 sec
5. Anna Plichta (Pol) Trek-Segafredo at 20 sec
6. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans at 22 sec
7. Olga Zabalinskaya (Uzb) Cogeas-Mettler-Look at 25 sec
8. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) BTC-City Ljubljana at 26 sec
9. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Sunweb at 27 sec
10. Vita Heine (Nor) Hitec Products at 27 same time

General classification after stage one
1. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) WNT-Rotor in 12-52
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Sunweb at 04 sec
3. Pernille Mathiesen (Den) Sunweb at 13 sec
4. Karol-Ann Canuel (Can) Boels-Dolmans at 19 sec
5. Anna Plichta (Pol) Trek-Segafredo at 20 sec
6. Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans at 22 sec
7. Olga Zabalinskaya (Uzb) Cogeas-Mettler-Look at 25 sec
8. Eugenia Bujak (Slo) BTC-City Ljubljana at 26 sec
9. Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Sunweb at 27 sec
10. Vita Heine (Nor) Hitec Products at 27 same time
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