THE American cycling team BMC Racing won yesterday’s team trial on the opening stage of the Vuelta a Espana from Puerto Banus to Marbella. Peter Velits pulled on the first leader’s red jersey of the three-week race.
However, Team Sky finished 20th after expressing concerns about safety on the 7.4km route.
Fans and opposition politicians blasted the PSOE-IU-OSP-run Marbella Town Hall, which was under PP control until June, for failing to prepare the Grand Tour’s opening section adequately.
Councillor Javier Garcia said: “It is lamentable that after the work done by the previous Popular Party government, and the efforts carried out by businesses along the route for this grand sporting date to be a success, that it will be tarnished by a lack of management.”
The five BMC Racing Team riders crossed the line in 8:10″, one second faster than both runner-up Tinkoff-Saxo and ORICA-GreenEDGE in third.
In taking the victory, the reigning world team time trial champions won their third team time trial of the season while earning their 30th victory of the season. That matches a team record set in both 2013 and 2014.
Receiving the race leader’s jersey was a special moment for Velits. The past Slovakian national time trial champion missed much of the first half of the season after undergoing surgery on his left leg for an overuse injury.
“I am super happy,” Velits said. “We did everything perfectly – everything that we spoke about was done to plan. The only thing we did not discuss was who would cross the line first. The last kilometre went so fast, we really did not change position or think about who was going to be first to the line. We just wanted to get to the finish as quickly as possible.”
Timing in Saturday evening’s event did not count toward individual standings after concerns were raised about the nature of the course. A narrow wooden bridge and dirt and sand on the course led race organisers to only count the time toward team standings.
“The circuit was nice for the people, but it was not nice for the team,” BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said. “But we have respect for the organization and for this reason we went full gas to try to win. We have the best team, world champions. After the Tour de France, this was a big objective for the team.”
Tejay van Garderen, who joins Velits at the Vuelta as two of the six riders on the BMC Racing Team’s squad that won the world title last September in Spain, said the team was not going to ride cautiously.
Meanwhile Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas said: “Our goal was just to stay safe. It’s a big disappointment really to have a neutralised stage like that because we were all looking forward to going full gas and having a good race.
“When the organisers said there weren’t going to be any times taken for the general classification, we decided to take it easy and stay upright.
“If everyone had have gone flat out, it might have been quite dangerous.”
On Friday race organisers said times would not count towards overall standings due to safety concerns. over the 7.4km route.
The race continues today with a 158.7km stage from Alhuarin de la Torre (13:28h) to the Caminito del Rey (approx 17:30h).
Stage One – Team trial results:
1. BMC Racing (USA) 8:10″
2. Tinkoff – Saxo (Russia) +1″
3. Orica (Australia) +1″
4. LottoNL (Netherlands) +8″
5. Etixx – Quick-Step (Belgium) +10″
6. Trek (United States) +11″
7. Lotto (Belgium) +18″
8. Caja Rural (Spain) +18″
9. Movistar (Spain) +24″
10. Cofidis (France) +27″
20. Team Sky (Britain) +1:11″