Astana won the opening stage one time trial of the Vuelta a España 2019 as they put their GC hopeful Miguel Ángel López in the leader’s jersey.
Jumbo-Visma were expected to challenge but the majority of their roster came off their bikes after hitting water on the road as they sped through a corner. The Dutch squad’s GC hopeful Primož Roglič hit the deck but the riders were unharmed, although they had shed 40 seconds by the time they crossed the line.
In an eventful day at the Vuelta, the team car of the Euskadi-Murias squad crashed into a wall after taking a corner too quickly. The occupants of the vehicle are all believed to be okay.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step were the closest to Astana’s fastest time of 14-51 around the 13.4km course, finishing two seconds slower after nearly coming a cropper themselves. As the Belgian squad whipped round a corner, they narrowly avoided crashing into the back of a Jumbo-Visma team car that was sorting a mechanical for one of their struggling riders.
Sunweb finished third, three seconds further back, with EF Education First fourth and Bora-Hangrohe fifth.
Movistar finished 16 seconds down on Astana, giving López a slight advantage over Nairo Quintana, with Ineos finishing in 11th place, setting a time of 15-16.
How it happened
Dimension Data were the first team to set off against the backdrop of the salt flats, making many viewers check the colour balance on their television sets. The South African team laid down the opening bench mark of 15-25 on the 13.4km course.
Ag2r La Mondiale then finished three seconds down before CCC finished 19 seconds quicker than Dimension Data to take their place in the hot seat.
However, EF Education First then went through the first check point with the new fastest time of 8-19, eventually going on to be the first team to break the 15-minute barrier with a time of 14-58.
Groupama-FDJ went through the first check point four seconds quicker but blew through their riders too quickly, being left with four as they finished nine seconds down on the American team.
Ineos were third quickest at the time check point, eventually finishing in 15-16, the fourth quickest at that point.
Sunweb came through the time check with the second quickest time of 8-16, going on to overhaul EF Education First by two seconds, setting a time of 14-56.
However, now the GC teams began to roll out of the start, with Astana bettering the quickest time at the check point by six seconds.
The Kazakhstani team set the new benchmark for the GC teams, going five seconds quicker than Sunweb with a time of 14-51 and Miguel Ángel López crossing the line first.
Soon after Jumbo-Visma made their way to the start line, replicating the arctic-looking conditions of the salt flats in their warm-up, with giant fans adding to the ice jackets as riders sweltered in the lasting heat from a summer day in southern Spain.
Sepp Kuss was quickly detached from the Jumbo-Visma train, as Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Movistar rolled off the start ramp as the final two teams to take to the course.
Jumbo-Visma came through the check point seven seconds down on Astana, with Deceuninck – Quick-Step a couple of seconds slower.
Disaster then struck the Dutch squad as nearly their whole squad hit the deck through a corner that had water on the road. Their GC man Primož Roglič came down but was unharmed as Jumbo-Visma’s race quickly turned into damage limitation on the first stage of the Spanish Grand Tour.
Tony Martin led them through to the finish, finding themselves 40 seconds adrift of Astana’s time.
The Vuelta was on the verge of descending into complete chaos on the very first day, as Deceuninck – Quick-Step nearly crashed into a Jumbo-Visma car that was changing the wheel of one of its stragglers. Then another Deceuninck rider took a corner too wide and came to a halt against a barrier on the run-in to the finish. The Belgian squad may be left thinking about what could have been as they finished just two seconds slower than Astana as they crossed the line.
Movistar hadn’t bothered the top five places at the time check point, but eventually rode to a seventh place finish, 16 seconds down on Astana, to limit their losses in a discipline the Spanish squad are by no means suited to.
López took the leader’s jersey for Astana, with Deceuninck’s Philippe Gilbert the next non-Astana rider on GC, two seconds down in seventh place.
Vuelta a España 2019, stage one (TTT): Salinas de Torrevieja to Torrevieja (13.4km)
1. Astana (Kaz), in 14-51
2. Deceuninck – Quick-Step (Bel), at two seconds
3. Sunweb (Ger), at 5s
4. EF Education First (USA), at 7s
5. Bora-Hansgrohe (Ger), at 13s
6. CCC (Pol), at 15s
7. Movistar (Esp), at 16s
8. Groupama-FDJ (Fra), at same time
9. Mitchelton-Scott (Aus), at 18s
10. Lotto-Soudal (Bel), at 19s
General classification after stage one
1. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, in 14-51
2. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
4. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana
5. Luis León Sánchez (Esp) Astana
6. Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Astana, all at same time
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at two seconds
8. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
9. Zdeněk Štybar (Cze) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
10. Max Richeze (Arg) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, all at same time