Michal Kwiatkowski says he is disappointed not to take the victory in the opening time trial of the Vuelta a España, but said there was nothing he could do against an ‘unbeatable’ Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing).
Dennis stormed to victory on the short 8km course of the time trial in Malaga, averaging over 49.6kph to beat the Team Sky man into second by just six seconds.
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It’s the second time this year Dennis has taken the leader’s jersey in a Grand Tour after winning an opening time trial, taking pink after the first day of the Giro d’Italia in Israel.
While Kwiatkowski was left frustrated to miss out on an early victory in the Vuelta, he sits in an advantageous position already in the quest for the general classification. Ultimately though, the Pole says his aim was to win and take red on Saturday.
“It was a good ride from me but at the end of the day not good enough to win,” Kwiatkowski said post race.
“Congratulations to Rohan Dennis for such an impressive ride. He was unbeatable today I would say. I gave it my best and I was trying to win the stage, having the split times of [Jonathan] Castroviejo and the other guys.
“I was happy with my ride but at the end of the day chapeau to Rohan.
“We are racing to win the races so of course when you are there on the hot seat you have to feel disappointment. It’s in our genes to try to win. But the Vuelta is three weeks long so I’m looking forward to the next days.”
Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) and Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) were the best finishing climbers after opening stage, finishing 22 seconds down on Dennis and now 16 seconds behind Kwiatkowski.
More established Grand Tour contenders like Richie Porte (BMC Racing) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) are already significantly down on the leader at 51 seconds and 40 seconds respectively.
28-year-old Kwiatkowski will be favourite to depose Dennis of the red jersey in the coming road stages, with a difficult introduction for the riders already coming on stage two with a category three finish Cominito del Rey.
“I think we can be really happy. We’ve had a good start. Kwiato was so close to the win,” Team Sky sport director Gabriel Rasch said.
“I think he got everything out more or less. Rohan Dennis was just too fast. Then those young guys, Tao [Geoghegan Hart], Pavel [Sivakov], Dylan [van Baarle] all did a super time trial and they really showed they deserve to be here and they are really promising talents for the future.
“It’s a big step up in their career and for the years to come.”