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Successful on one continent in the USA Pro Challenge, the BMC Racing Team was victorious on another when it took the opening leg of the Vuelta a España in the south of Spain.
The American squad blazed around the testing, technical 7.4 kilometre course between Porto Banus and Malaga, deciding to go for the win while some others opted to hold back.
Concerns expressed about the route in the days leading up to the start had seen the race organisers declare the team time trial wouldn’t count for the overall standings. This led to varying motivation between the teams.
The Sky squad of Tour de France winner and twice Vuelta runner-up Chris Froome was one that didn’t go full gas, but the same couldn’t be said about the BMC Racing Team.
It floored it from the start and ultimately went one second quicker than previous leaders Tinkoff-Saxo and Orica-GreenEdge, while LottoNL-Jumbo and Etixx – Quick-Step were eight and ten seconds back respectively in fourth and fifth.
The Movistar squad of Tour podium finishers Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde were ninth, the Astana team of Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa were 13th and Sky were 20th.
The BMC Racing Team victory follows on from the world championship triumph last September and its Tour de France TTT stage win in July.
Its general classification contender Tejay van Garderen referred to that championships and said that it was important that the team showed its class by going all out. “The guys stepped up and did us proud.
“We picked five guys to bring it to the end and we had three guys to just line it out from the start,” he said, explaining the tactical approach. “Do one kilo effort, pull off. Then we had give guys to bring it to the line. I can’t remember much of it, to be honest, but it is great to help Peter Velits take the lead.”
Velits crossed the line first and ended the day in the red jersey of race leader. The general classification counter won’t start until Sunday, however, meaning that his holding of that garment is a symbolic one.
Orica GreenEdge’s Simon Gerrans spoke after that team took the provisional lead early on. “I know some teams said they wouldn’t be going for it but we are all racers,” he said, explaining the Australian squad’s decision to give everything.
“Once we are out there, we are going to go our hardest.”
In contrast, Sky’s Geraint Thomas said that the British team had a very different approach.
“It was just about staying safe,” he said. “ It is a big disappointment, really, to have a stage like that.
“Everyone was looking forward to a good TTT, going full gas and having a good race. But the organisers said there was going to be no GC, it was probably too dangerous to go full gas. So we just took it easy.”
The Vuelta a España continues Sunday with the first road race stage, and is straight into the climbs.
Totalling 165 kilometres in length, the race from Alhaurin de la Torre to Caminito del Rey finishes atop a third category climb and will give an early insight into the form of the general classification riders.
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