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VUELTA’18 Stage 1: Dennis Draws First Blood In Malaga
Stage Report: To no one’s surprise, lean, super specialist Rohan Dennis (BMC and Champion of Australia) took the Malaga Time trial win in Stage One of the 2018 Vuelta beating Sky’s GC man, Michal Kwiatkowski by six seconds to go into red tomorrow. Here's the race report, winner's interview and rider quotes.

In a nutshell; flat with one drag, fast, non-technical and for the specialists. It’s hot but not too hot, ideal for clock bursting.



The early benchmark was set by Dutch TT champion, Dylan Van Baarle (Sky) with a 9:59. Richie Porte's tummy troubles meant BMC's perennial Grand Tour Aussie hope flopped again - that hill top finish tomorrow won't help with convalescence.



Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott & GB) rode to a decent 10:20, acceptable for a skinny climber - but those ‘camo’ helmets...

This may be a short chrono and mean little in the overall way of things - but form is form. Van Baarle looks relaxed in the hot seat, he knows that it really belongs to Rohan Dennis (BMC & Australia).

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo & The Netherlands) rocks and rolls along the boulevards - big and strong but far from stylish. But the time is passable, close to the 10 minute mark, he’ll be happy enough with that.

Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale & France) is a TT specialist but he’s slogging the course’s one drag – off the tri-bars and shoulders rocking. Not the way – and the clock confirms that, 10:22.



Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ & France) launches, can he make amends for that horrible Giro? – we have three weeks to find out. A wee bit of body roll but not too much.

USA TT champs podium regular, Brent Bookwalter (BMC) is over the tar now, big strong boy and TTT stalwart. I remember when the first of those BMC Time Machines arrived; they were from another world – and still pretty cool.

Pinot – 10:20, not too bad.

Sky’s Henao wrestles the drag, out of the saddle – this isn’t his scene, Uran is about the only Colombian with a track record against the watch. Bookwalter’s style evaporates along the polished granite finish straight but it’s very decent – 10:03. Team mate De Marchi (Italy) did 10:01, BMC’s chrono guru, Marco Pinotti has been working with these guys.



Gorka Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida & Spain) just misses the 10 minute mark, he looked very relaxed out there.

Not long until Jon Castroviejo (Sky & Spain) climbs the start ramp, he’s the next man who can post a nine minute effort, super aero and smooth. Belgium’s Dylan Teuns is another Pinotti coached BMC man scratching the 10 minute mark; as does young Sky Brit, Tao Geoghegan Hart – nice ride. But Van Baarle is still on his throne.

The shadows are lengthening now as Lars Boom’s (LottoNL-Jumbo & Netherlands) big form blasts out over the warm tar – he can test when he likes, he won the TT in the Tour of Britain, last year – but not today. Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin & Russia) is out there, he can test but this effort is too short for him.



Castroviejo launches in the blood and sand of Spanish Champion, low, sleek, back parallel to the tar. He’s flying through the bends and churning those straights with minimal body movement on that red and yellow Pinarello. Castroviejo banks into the home straight, is this the one? Nope!

Van Baarle’s ride looks better by the minute as the Dutchman permits himself a smile – not for long though...

Tall Portuguese chronoman Nelson Oliveira blasts home for Movistar: 09:56 – he’s been Portuguese TT Champion in the past and was fourth in the Worlds last year after all; ‘ciao’ Dylan Dude. Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb & The Netherlands) is one of the favourites for a top five on GC; it will be interesting to see how his form is – 10:01, he’s in shape.

Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky & Poland) on the ramp – strong, fast, compact and a former Polish TT champion; he’ll not be a million miles away.



Valverde’s Movistar is next; off to a great roar on his home tar. Kwiato’s cadence is low, the gear big, his body still; all good indicators. Oliveira smiles out from the hot seat. Back on the Sky bus, Van Baarle kicks the team dog.

Valverde has some upper body movement but he’s getting the job done, big geared and solid. Kwiato is on the drag, maybe toiling a little, out of the saddle, that’ll cost time – but maybe the gear is mega and the low cadence is deceiving us?

Valverde on the drag, off the tri-bars and slogging a little, as ahead of him Kwiatkowski hurtles down the other side of the drag. The time check is kind to the Pole, less so to the Spaniard.



US TT champion Joey Rosskopf thrashes the finish straight – but Kwiato isn’t far behind, out of the saddle – 09:45, wow! That gear was indeed mega. Ciao Nelson!

Valverde comes home just over the ten mark. Euro Champ Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal & Belgium) off the ramp now – but this is perhaps too short for him. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac & Colombia) launches – sixth at San Sebastian so he’s in shape.

Then Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe & Slovakia) unusual to see him in a Bora skinsuit. The same one he talked about when Pez interviewed him at his Gravel Fondo.



Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates & Italy) next but this is not his bag. Campenaerts looks smoother than usual but it’s difficult to see him besting Kwiato; albeit he’s only two seconds behind Kwiato at half distance. The Belgian is smooth and strong on the drag.

Simon Yates next, he’s one of the favourites for this Vuelta.



Rohan Dennis, BMC’s Aussie Champion and a real short TT maestro drops off the ramp. Campenaerts finishes like a bull escaping from an abattoir but the second hand clicks once too many times for him.

Kwiato still leads. Valverde’s Colombian amigo Quintana launches, another man who doesn’t dig this scene.



Vincenzo Nibali - former Vuelta champ and the Shark of the Straights (Bahrain-Merida & Italy) is last man off. This is it, the end game.

Dennis begins the drag, as Aru hobbles home, the Aussie is up by five seconds on the Pole. Let’s not discuss Quintana’s split time. Nibali looks neat, nine seconds back on Kwiato, not disastrous but the drag will hurt.

Dennis is long, lean and tidy through the curves – he’s almost caught his minute man in the finish straight: 09:39 and it’s all over. Quintana and Nibali come home both around the 10 minutes, so not so bad.

Dennis in red, no surprises and Vuelta is ON.



Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team): “Kwiatkowski put on a lot of pressure. Honestly, I was hoping that the times would be a little bit slow, with obviously less stress going into. But, in the end, you cannot do what you can’t do. I just put everything out there and hope for a win. I knew that, basically, the race finished at the top of the hill. From there, you only can lose one or two seconds. I was just thinking about trying to get a stage win at La Vuelta. It is special to win an individual stage here in La Vuelta, specially after what I did in the Giro. It’s nice to get the first stage again and I think, from now on, it would have been pretty though to get the red. Kwiatkowski is flying and he might end up taking the jersey tomorrow.”

The Winner's Interview with Rohan Dennis Courtesy Team BMC
Congratulations Rohan! How were you feeling before you rolled off the ramp today?

"Kwiatkowski definitely piled on a lot of pressure and honestly I was hoping the time would be a little slower so there would obviously be less stress going into it but in the end, you can only do what you can do and I just put everything out there and hoped for the win."

"It's great to now have individual stage wins at all three Grand Tours but that wasn't in my mind today. It was really just about making sure I achieved my first goal which was to get the stage win here."

Where do you think today's time trial was won?
"I think the finish today was really at the top of the climb. You couldn't lose too much time on the downhill so, it was really all about the first 5.5km and after that I just tried to get to the finish as fast as possible."

"There was a bit of pressure and I saw Kwiatkowski's time after my warm up and I won't lie, I was saying I was going to beat it but in my mind, there was still a little bit of doubt. But, you stick to the plan and if you're feeling good you can go a little bit harder and really it was only a 6'30" effort to the top of the hill and from there if you were in front it was hard to lose."

How does it feel to be back in the red leader's jersey?
"It feels pretty good. Part of my goal coming into the Vuelta was to get a stage win and it's nice to do that on the first day again and also get the jersey. I think after today it would have been pretty hard to get the red jersey so this was really my only chance to get it and we succeeded."

"To be honest, it's not a big deal if I lose the jersey tomorrow. My Vuelta is primarily to prepare for the UCI World Championships and the team has other goals with other riders so if I have to help, I have to help. I'm not here for the GC so while of course it would be nice to keep it, it's not the end of the world if I lose it."

How were you able to deal with the pressure of today's stage?
"It's taken years to work out but basically it's about believing in what you can do, the work you have already done and the support group around you and for me, that has always been great with BMC Racing Team. Everyone believes in me and does everything possible to make the day go as smooth as possible and I really appreciate that."

What are your next goals for this Vuelta a España?
"I would love to help some of the other guys to go for a stage win and that really starts tomorrow as it's going to be a hard finish. They are saying it's too hard for the sprinters but it could be good for Dylan. For me, my role from now on is about helping the team and then we get to my next target which is the stage 16 time trial."

Quotes From the Finish Line Courtesy Team BMC:
Alessandro De Marchi:
"I am happy with my performance. I was looking to do a good time trial today and I think I did that. I have been working with my BMC Racing Team coach, Marco Pinotti a lot and I am happy with my effort and for me, the result doesn't matter too much. It was more about how I felt. It was hot today but we're at the Vuelta a España so it was nothing strange for us. It was a long day for everyone as we trained this morning and then warmed up once we arrived in Malaga so for an 8km effort, we maybe trained for two to three hours before it but overall for me, it was a good start to a race I enjoy."

Dylan Teuns:
"I felt good today. I was really strong on the climb and that definitely gives me confidence at the start of this Vuelta. It was a good time trial for me. I'm not really a specialist on day's like this but I think I can be happy with this performance. It was good for me that there was a climb on the parcours as that always puts me in a better position. I already knew coming into the race that I could do well on longer time trials but on a short one like today it's a surprise for me to do as well as I did."

Brent Bookwalter:
"I think I strung together a pretty good ride today. It was a high speed course with a few tricky parts but nothing too difficult. There was only a couple of moments when you had to be on the brakes and the climb was only short. Going into a Grand Tour that starts with a time trial is always daunting as you know the percentage of racing is small so you don't want to spend too much energy for no reason but at the same time, we have all arrived here fit and ready and doing an effort that you can be proud of is good for your confidence, morale and motivation going into the next few days."

Richie Porte:
"I think the lead up to a Grand Tour is always a little stressful and mine definitely hasn't been ideal so I am just glad to start the race really. It was a pretty straightforward course with a couple of corners where you had to be a little more careful and it was a little bit slippery as there is obviously a lot of traffic on these roads normally. The climb wasn't much to worry about either."

"I didn't feel great today but I knew that I wasn't coming into the race in my best form. The Tour de France was bitterly disappointing and it's not been a straightforward run in for me but I look forward to building on my form especially for the UCI World Championships over the next three weeks."

"I know I am going to take a bit of a kicking over the first two weeks but I think I should be better in the last week. Mentally, it was hard to get over the crash in July and it wasn't easy to restart or find my momentum but I have still done some good training. I am definitely not as good as I was at the Tour but hopefully by the end, I can be in good shape. I would love to be able to take a stage win in the final week. It looks really hard on paper and that's my big motivation."


 
Vuelta a España Stage 1 Result:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC in 9:39
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 0:06
3. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:07
4. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar at 0:17
5. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Sky at 0:20
6. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC at 0:21
7. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Sky
8. Simon Geschke (Ger) Sunweb
9. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 0:22
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb
11. Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC
12. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
13. Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:23
14. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar
15. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC
16. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:24
17. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
18. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Sky
19. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:25
20. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 0:27
21. Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC at 0:28
22. Damien Howson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
23. Martijn Tusveld (Ned) Sunweb
24. Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data at 0:29
25. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe.

Vuelta a España Overall After Stage 1:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC in 9:39
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 0:06
3. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:07
4. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar at 0:17
5. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Sky at 0:20
6. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC at 0:21
7. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Sky
8. Simon Geschke (Ger) Sunweb
9. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 0:22
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb
11. Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC
12. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
13. Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:23
14. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar
15. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC
16. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:24
17. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
18. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Sky
19. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:25
20. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 0:27
21. Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC at 0:28
22. Damien Howson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
23. Martijn Tusveld (Ned) Sunweb
24. Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data at 0:29
25. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe.

 


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