Team dsm-firmenich win rain-soaked stage 1 team time trial -Vuelta a Espana

Vuelta a Espana 2023

Stage 1

Team dsm-firmenich put in a mistake-free ride to win the opening team time trial at the Vuelta a España, in treacherous conditions. The second team to start, they finished the 14.8km course in a time of 17:30, taking the stage 1 victory ahead of Movistar and EF Education-EasyPost. The victory put Lorenzo Milesi in the first leader’s jersey of this year’s race after he crossed the line ahead of his Team dsm-firmenich teammates.

In contention for the stage win, Movistar were flying on home roads in pitch black and set the same time as dsm-firmenich at the checkpoint. The five riders left in the Spanish team were not able to stick together at the line and ultimately finished less than one second back.

With the stage length measuring 9km shorter than the 23km TTT from stage 1 last year, time gaps were expected to be smaller, but the difficult wet and dark conditions on the technical course with 22 corners caused havoc for many teams.

Starting mid-way on the start list, Bahrain Victorious finished in seventh, 10 seconds down while the teams that started later had to also face pitch-black gloom in addition to wet roads. Defending Champion Remco Evenepoel’s Soudal-QuickStep finished fourth, tied in time with EF Education-EasyPost, at six seconds down.

Ineos Grenadiers lost a rider early to a crash and placed eighth, down 11 seconds. Jonas Vingegaard suffered a flat on the course and his team had to wait for him to ultimately finished 11th, 32 seconds down.

Milesi was still in a bit of shock after the finish and though he and his team had a lot of time to reflect while sitting in the hot seat, it was still a surprise victory.

“It’s an amazing feeling. This win with all the team was so fun and so nice, it was really emotional,” Milesi said.

“Actually, we took some risks, we had some good legs and a good power plan with the team. We stuck to that and I think it worked really well, so we’re happy.”

Team leader Romain Bardet called it “a really nice day”, referring to the results and not the weather.

Riders had to contend with challenging conditons.

“It’s a dream start for us to be honest. We did some nice training on Wednesday here together. The goal for the Vuelta still says the same; we will take it day-by-day. We want to make sure that our young guys can learn as much and gain as much experience as they can. We did well in the process today,” Bardet said.

“It was a fun experience to ride with the guys on the limit on every corner but also caring about how the guys were following behind you. I’m proud of everyone, it’s a really nice day.”

The opening stage of the Vuelta a España would see the peloton take on a team time trial for the second year in a row, and the third time in five years. Following tests in Torrevieja in 2019 and Utrecht last year, the 2023 race began with a TTT in Barcelona.

The 14.8km stage wasn’t purely flat, featuring minimal elevation as the teams passed along the city streets, starting at the beachfront and taking on a succession of largely right-angle bends on a technical course before finishing in front of the famous fountain at Montjuïc Park.

Rain forced race staff to busily mop the wet and slippery red start ramp before the start of each of the 22 teams. The conditions on the ramp led to riders from Caja Rural-Seguros, Burgos-BH, and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty skidding when first pushing on their pedals and trying to get traction on the slick ramp.

Taking no risks, the first team to start, Caja Rural-Seguros, set the first benchmark time with 18:22. However, the Spanish squad wouldn’t spend long in the hot seat as the next team to start, Team dsm-firmenich, with a new best time of 17:30.

Lidl-Trek had a surprisingly difficult experience, starting with a rider almost going down around the first corner, and they lost 56 seconds.

The seventh team to start, Arkéa-Samsic, showed off its new neon yellow jersey instead of their usual red jersey, so as not to clash with the race leader’s red jersey. Taking risks on the final corners, the second rider took the inside line and slid out, which took out two of his teammates. With the time taken for the fifth rider crossing the line, Arkéa-Samsic slotted into seventh place, down 1:18 from the fast time, to set the worst time of the day.

Mid-point of the starters, neither Bahrain Victorious nor EF Education-EasyPost were expected to take over the top of the leaderboard, but the teams took major risks in the pouring rain to keep their respective GC contenders – Mikel Landa and Hugh Carthy – safe.

Lorenzo Milesi dons the red jersey.

Bahrain Victorious set the third fastest time at the first split and increased their pace in the second half to slot into second place for now, 10 seconds back. EF Education-EasyPost kept a steady pace, setting the second fastest time at the split, and going into second place six seconds behind.

The wet conditions caused havoc with Alpecin-Deceuninck and Jayco AlUla which left the teams in shambles. Alpecin-Deceuninck lost two riders in the first minute, and another crash in the final, while Jayco AlUla slid out in one of the 22 corners.

The young team Groupama-FDJ squad had a solid and mistake-free ride to slide into the top five, only seven seconds off the fast time.

Another favourite to win the stage, Ineos Grenadiers also suffered unexpected drama when Laurens De Plus crashed early. Though he got back gingerly on his bike, he was not able to contribute anything more to his team today.

Jumbo-Visma did not demonstrate their usual cohesion early on and came in 28 seconds slower at the intermediate time check, racing through the wet streets in darkness. Not taking chances, the team finished 32 seconds back.

Down to five riders at the line, with a rider crashing on the final corners, UAE Team Emirates, finished with the 12th fastest time, at 37 seconds.

Of the teams starting late, Movistar did not have any troubles with the pitch-black visibility and flew in front of fans cheering for them. The fifth rider was gapped before the finish line, losing a few hundredths of a second and, ultimately, finished 0.55 down from Team dsm-firmenich for second place.

Soudal-QuickStep, the team of defending Champion Remco Evenepoel, finished fourth, tied in time with EF Education-EasyPost, at six seconds down. An animated Evenepoel showed to the camera that he was not happy with the darkness after crossing the line.

Stage 1 result:

  1. Team DSM-Firmenich 17’30”
  2. Movistar Team +0″
  3. EF Education-EasyPost +6″
  4. Soudal Quick-Step +6″
  5. Groupama-FDJ +6″
  6. Bahrain Victorious +10″
  7. Astana Qazaqstan Team +17″
  8. INEOS Grenadiers +20″
  9. Cofidis +22″
  10. BORA-hansgrohe +28″

General Classification:

  1. Lorenzo Milesi (ITA, Team DSM-Firmenich) 17’30”
  2. David Max Poole (GBR, Team DSM-Firmenich) +0″
  3. Romain Bardet (FRA,  Team DSM-Firmenich) +0″
  4. Sean Flynn (GBR, Team DSM-Firmenich) +0″
  5. Edgar Oscar Onley (GBR, Team DSM-Firmenich) +0″
  6. Christopher Hamilton (AUS, Team DSM-Firmenich) +0″
  7. Enric Mas (ESP, Movistar) +0″
  8. Einer Augusto Rubio Reyes (COL, Movistar) +0″
  9. Nelson Oliveira (POR, Movistar) +0″
  10. Ivan Garcia Cortina (ESP, Movistar) +0″

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