DSM-Firmenich surprising winners of wet and dark Vuelta a España opening stage team time trial

Remco Evenepoel is the best-placed out of the overall favourites

Vuelta
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lorenzo Milesi is the first leader of 2023 Vuelta a España after DSM-Firmenich shocked the favourites to win the stage one team time trial in Barcelona.

Pre-stage, the expectation among many was that Jumbo-Visma would run out winners, with the Dutch team counting Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard in their line-up.

But wet conditions, and darkening skies, flipped the race on its head, and the advantage laid with the teams who began early. DSM-Firmenich, the second team to start, posted the fastest time of 17.30 across the 14.8km.

Movistar, with Enric Mas among their ranks, levelled DSM's time, but missed out on the victory when hundredths of seconds were taken into account.

Italian Milesi, just 21, will be the race's first wearer of the red jersey in what is his first ever Grand Tour. Just over a fortnight ago, he became U23 time trial world champion in Glasgow.

Third place went to EF Education-EasyPost, six seconds behind, with Soudal-QuickStep and Groupama-FDJ finishing on the same time.

That meant that defending champion Remco Evenepoel was the best-placed out of the overall favourites for the title, with Ineos Grenadiers, the team of Geraint Thomas, 14 seconds back.

Jumbo-Visma finished 32 seconds down on DSM's time, and Roglic and Vingegaard have an immediate deficit of 26 seconds to Evenepoel; UAE-Team Emirates' duo of João Almeida and Juan Ayuso crossed the line 37 seconds slower than the winners.

Vuelta

Quick-Step's riders race in the dark

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ridden under heavy rain and thundering skies, the city centre circuit included a series of wet corners and tight roads, making the racing technical and the spectacle anything but enjoyable.

Rain had been forecast in the drought-ridden city all day, but it was only an hour before the race began that the sky above Barcelona darkened. Fifteen minutes before the first team - Caja Rural-Seguros RSA - rolled down the start ramp, there was intermittent thunder and lightning, accompanied by rain.

The first six teams to ride all avoided any accidents, but Arkea-Samsic had three men tumble to the ground on the wet city centre roads. Not long after, Alpecin-Deceuninck had a man on the floor, too.

When Ineos Grenadiers began, at just before 8pm local time, the rain became even heavier, and within a few kilometres Laurens De Plus of the British team crashed hard. The Belgian was able to remount on his bike, but looked in pain as he did so.

Jayco-AlUla's Eddie Dunbar, targeting a top-10 in the race after his seventh-placed finish at May's Giro d'Italia, crashed in the closing kilometres of the stage along with five of his teammates, but the Irishman appeared to survive without too much damage.

The rain remained incessant, and as the final few teams all took to the start, the light was fading fast, making conditions even trickier for the riders out on the course. Come the end, only Movistar could match DSM's time, but no one could better the youthful team.

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