The Australian dominated in the short opening time trial to complete stage wins in all three Grand Tours

Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) won the opening time trial of the 2018 Vuelta a España in Malaga, beating Michal Kwiatkowski to the stage victory and the overall lead.

The Australian champion blitzed the 8km course at over 49.6kph, well up on Kwiatkowski at the intermediate check before driving the pace to finish six seconds up on the Pole.

It adds a Vuelta stage win to Dennis’ palmarès, meaning he has now won a stage in each of the three Grand Tours, having completed the set of leaders’ jerseys with the stage win and the pink jersey after opening time trial of the 2018 Giro d’Italia.

Among the GC contenders, most of them remain clustered fairly close together, with Kwiatkowski holding the most advantage after the first day.

Dennis’ team-mate Richie Porte, a hotly tipped favourite ahead of the race, was probably the worst off as he finished 51 seconds down meaning he already has a chunk of time to overcome if he wants to win the race overall. Last year’s runner-up Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) also finished with a disappointing time, 40 seconds behind the winner.

Rohan Dennis in the red jersey at the Vuelta a España 2018 stage one (Sunada)

How it happened

Jorge Cubero (Burgos BH) was the first rider down the start ramp in Malaga for the 2018 Vuelta a España, however the first real benchmark for the 8km time trial came from Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First-Drapac) who rode into the lead with a time of 10-04.

The first major GC contender to set off was Richie Porte, who looked to be off the pace with a time of 10-26.

The next man out after Porte, Dylan van Baarle (Team Sky), would have a long stint in the hot seat, after he set a blistering time of 9-59, the only rider to break the 10 minute mark until he was beaten almost an hour later.

A number of riders had come close to van Baarle’s time, including Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing) who finished just a second behind, with his team-mate Dylan Teuns and Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) a further second back.

The man to finally beat the Dutchman was Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), who was able to set the new best time by three seconds over van Baarle, with a time of 9-56.

With some more elite time triallists taking to the course in the latter part of the race, Oliveira’s time looked severely under threat. And it didn’t take too long before it was eclipsed, with former Polish champion Michal Kwiatkowski coming through in a time of 9-45, 11 seconds quicker.

European champion Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) was the next rider to come close to the lead, with the Belgian giving it his all in the final 100m but ultimately coming up short by one second at 9-46.

The big favourite for victory was then shortly after out on the course, with Rohan Dennis looking like he was living up to his billing as he went five seconds quicker than Kwiatkowski at the 4.8km mark.

The Australian continued to increase the pace, and eventually crossed the finish line six seconds faster than Kwiatkowski to take the win and the red jersey with just David de la Cruz (Team Sky), Nario Quintana (Movistar) and Vincenzo Nibali left out on the course and all well off the pace.

Vincenzo Nibali on stage one of the 2018 Vuelta a España in Malaga (Sunada)

Nibali and Quintana finished at 40 and 30 seconds down respectively, while Britain’s Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) will be pleased to finish 29 seconds down.

Potential GC contenders Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) and Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) will both be satisfied with their efforts on the short time trial, finishing inside the top-10 at 22 seconds.

The Vuelta continues on Sunday with stage two with a 163.5km stage from Marbella to Caminito del Rey.

Results

Vuelta a España 2018, stage one: Malaga (8km ITT)

1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team, in 9-39-81
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, at 6s
3 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 7s
4 Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team, at 17s
5 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky, at 20s
6 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team, at 21s
7 Jonathan Castroviejo (Esp) Team
8 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb, all at same time
9 Ion Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 22s
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 22s

Overall classification after stage one

1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team, in 9-39-81
2 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, at 6s
3 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 7s
4 Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team, at 17s
5 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky, at 20s
6 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team, at 21s
7 Jonathan Castroviejo (Esp) Team
8 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb, all at same time
9 Ion Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 22s
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 22s