Lopez in red as Astana win opening TTT – Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a Espana 2019

Stage 1

Colombia’s Miguel Angel Lopez led home the winning Astana team in Torreviejo to secure the first red jersey of the Vuelta as favourites Jumbo-Visma crashed on a wet corner in a dramatic opening team time trial.

Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic and Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk were among five riders from the eight-man Jumbo-Visma team who hit the deck on a tight bend after an unexpected patch of water on the road.

Winners of the team time trial in both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, Jumbo-Visma’s chances of a hat-trick went up in smoke in a heap of carbon fibre in the coastal town in southeastern Spain.

Trailing Astana’s benchmark time at the intermediate check by just seven seconds ahead of their crash, the team regrouped to limit their losses to 40 seconds at the conclusion of the 13.4km race against the clock, which started beside the town’s famous salt lakes on a gimmicky ramp made of polished salt.

While none of their riders was badly hurt, Roglic, third in May’s Giro, has a nasty gash to his left hip as German veteran Tony Martin led the remnants over the line after an evening they would like to forget.

Runners-up Deceuninck-QuickStep were affected from the fallout of the crash after being held up by an errant Jumbo-Visma car attending to one of their dropped riders following the incident.
Team Astana during the team time trial.

The Belgian team were forced to take evasive action coming out of the blind corner – and then lost two riders, including Dutch sprinter Fabio Jakobsen, to the barriers near the finish – as they missed out on Astana’s target time by just two seconds.

Led home by Lopez, who recovered from being dropped earlier in the test, Astana were the victors as the sun set on the Costa Blanca, coming home with six riders in a time of 14’51”.

Team Sunweb took third place a further three seconds behind QuickStep while EF Education First and Bora-Hansgrohe completed the top five.

The Movistar team of Colombia’s Nairo Quintana and world champion Alejandro Valverde finished seventh at 16 seconds, while the Ineos team of British youngster Tao Geoghegan-Hart slumped to eleventh place at 25 seconds.

Jumbo-Visma, whose day got off to a portentously poor start after Sepp Kuss was dropped in the opening kilometre, were not the only team to come a cropper, with the UAE Team Emirates outfit of Italy’s Fabio Aru also crashing badly on the same wet corner of the highly technical course.

Aru, the 2015 Vuelta winner, came home with cuts to his left-hand side as his team slumped to 21st place at 1’07”.

The Vuelta continues on Sunday with the 199.6km Stage 2 from Benidorm to Calpe which features three categorised climbs ahead of a flat finish which could favour the sprinters provided a break does not go the distance.

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