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Vuelta’13 St.1: Atomic Astana!

Race Report: The team time trial is always a hard battle between the teams and their team mates. Today’s Stage 1 of the Vuelta a España was no different with dropped riders spread all over the Galician county side. In the end the last team to start, Astana, were the fastest finishers. Janez Brajkovic pipped his leader Vincenzo Nibali for the first Red jersey, but the future looks good for the Italian.

Astana roll away for their start

The course for the opening team time trial stage of this year’s Vuelta a España was neither too hilly nor too technical, but for sure it was fast. The highest point on the stage is at 90 metres altitude and apart from a few bends near the start and a couple near the finish there was not much to slow the teams down. The stage traveled 27.4 kilometres south from the port of Vilanova de Arousa, down the Galician peninsula to another port; Sanxenxo, the big problem was the windy conditions.

Here is the stage 1 preview with Google Maps Fly Through from Global Cycling Network:

The 68th Vuelta a España is Go!
First team down the start ramp, which is a 60 metre floating platform covered in 2 metre x 1 metre glass plates, was the ProConti “Wind Card” invitee; Team NetApp-Endura at 18:48 CET in a comfortable 24ºC, but with a strong wind.

At the start was Spanish Prime Minister; Mariano Rajoy, on his summer holidays in Galicia and getting his face on TV at the Vuelta, he is a cyclist in his spare time and does turn up regularly, so it’s not just political baby kissing.

Home-boys Caja Rural – Seguros RGA started fifth, but faded to 18th by the end.

Orica-GreenEdge started fast and Baden Cooke lost his place in the first 8 minutes on the twisty section. The Australian team were 2 seconds faster than NetApp-Endura at the first time check after 9.2 kilometres with a time of 10:59. Argos-Shimano was 36 seconds slower than Orica at the same point.


BMC held together to equal Orica-GreenEdge at 9.2 K’s as a depleted (down to 6 riders) NetApp-Endura passed through the second time check at 20 kilometres in 22:05 as Orica-GreenEdge dropped to 7 seconds down.

The big favourite team; Omega Pharma – Quick-Step put World time trial champion Tony Martin on the front to put in long efforts on the front giving the other riders a torturous time on his wheel.

Obviously NetApp-Endura was the first to finish with a time of 30:34; Orica-GreenEdge was 10 seconds slower. BMC slowed a little to the second time check and crossed the line 2 seconds down on NetApp-Endura and Argos-Shimano were over 1 minute behind and finished with only five riders at 1:38 on NetApp-Endura.

BMC also finished with 5 riders and Marco Pinotti brought them over the line with a time 1 second slower than the surprising NetApp-Endura.

Not a bad way to watch a Grand Tour stage.

Omega Pharma –Quick-Step went fastest at the 20K point with 21:57 and Tony Martin has burnt off four riders and put the others in some trouble, hopefully they can hold the minimum five riders to the line.

Lampre-Merida had stuck together and at 20 kilometres they were 27 seconds behind, while Vacansoleil-DCM crossed the finish line 1:18 down.

Omega Pharma – Quick-Step knocked NetApp-Endura off the leader’s seat by 19 seconds in a time of 30:15. Garmin-Sharp started fast off the glass ramp and put some riders in trouble in the first metres. The men in Orange; Euskaltel-Euskadi lined up for their last ever Grand Tour to a large cheer from the crowd, a sad finish.

Next up was the eight man Belkin team without Theo Bos who has a low cortisol level, which could mean a couple of things which we won’t go into here. They will miss the strongman Bos today and later in the race.

Sky was 20 seconds down at the first split and was also in the process of dropping Christian Knees and then soon after Edvald Boasson Hagen who is one of their star men. At the second split Sky moved up to 5 seconds slower than OPQS.

Saxo-Tinkoff pushed onto the podium with a time of 30:31, 16 seconds slower than OPQS, but 3 seconds faster than NetApp-Endura. Out on the road Cannondale, with Ivan Basso, were not doing so well as they were 39 seconds down at the 20K mark.

Sky had pulled out a fast finishing effort and took the second fastest time of 30:21, meanwhile RadioShack Leopard posted the same time as BMC at the 20K mark 14 seconds slower than OPQS. Movistar had the bit between their teeth and came through the first split in second place at 12 seconds.

Cannondale were a disappointing 11th in 31:25 as Joaquim Rodriguez’s Katusha were down at the first split by 14 seconds. Garmin-Sharp had a bad TTT with a time of 31:40, which gives Dan Martin some work to do in the next three weeks.

31:14 for Euskaltel-Euskadi put them in 13th place, 58 seconds down.

Last team off was Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana, they started fast and came through 9.2 kilometres only 4 seconds behind OPQS. At the finish Belkin put up a time of 30:43 which was 33 seconds slower than OPQS.

RadioShack Leopard had six men at the finish and shot across the line with a time of 30:09 to go into the lead with Fabian Cancellara frothing at the mouth as he dragged them to the finish. Katusha with four riders and a struggling Dani Moreno just managing to hold on came to the line in 30:59, 49 seconds too slow.

Movistar had slowed in the later part of the stage, they still had five riders at the finish and Alejandro Valverde and his boys put up a time of 30:28, maybe not what they wanted, but not too bad.

Jani Brajkovic stands tall as the first leader of the 2013 Vuelta.

Astana moved into the fastest place at the second time check, and coming towards the finish there was still seven riders in their group. Past the beach and the narrow finishing section, Astana powered to the line in 29:59 putting Janez Brajkovic in the first leader’s jersey.

Vincenzo Nibali wants to win this Vuelta a España and has thrown down a positive gauntlet early in Spain.

Keep it tuned to PEZ for all the action from Spain.

Vuelta a España Stage 1 Result:
1. Astana in 29:59
2. RadioShack Leopard Trek at 0:10
3. Omega Pharma-Quick-Step at 0:16
4. Sky at 0:22
5. Movistar at 0:29
6. Saxo-Tinkoff at 0:32
7. NetApp-Endura at 0:35
8. BMC at 0:36
9. Orica-GreenEdge at 0:45
10. Belkin at 0:46
11. Lampre-Merida at 0:56
12. Katusha at 0:59
13. Lotto Belisol at 1:14
14. Euskaltel-Euskadi
15. Vacansoleil-DCM at 1:18
16. FDJ at 1:25
17. Cannondale at 1:26
18. Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:38
19. Garmin-Sharp at 1:41
20. Ag2r-La Mondiale
21. Argos-Shimano at 1:53
22. Cofidis at 1:55.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 1:
1. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana in 29:59
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana
3. Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
5. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana
6. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana
7. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard Trek at 0:10
8. Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard Trek
9. Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack Leopard Trek
10. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack Leopard Trek.

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