A team time trial to start the Vuelta in Ourense, billed as the thermal spa capital of Galicia and a chance for the bigger and better teams to turn up the heat on their weaker rivals right from the start.
The Route: remember last year’s team time trial? The less said about the sea-side course the better because once the riders discovered the route they protested and the stage became a procession. It was a hiccup but revealing for the way nobody cared about the course until a couple of days before the race started; if this was the Tour de France it would have been reconned by several teams during the winter. No worries this time with a regular course that’s near water – a large artificial lake – but with ordinary roads.
It’s 29.4km and rises and falls more than the profile suggests but is still one for the big teams with powerful riders.
The Contenders: Movistar might not be the obvious choice for a team time trial but they’re at home and have a very strong team for this race – Jonathan Castroviejo was impressive in Rio – and they won the Vuelta opener in 2014.
Team Sky have some powerful riders including Chris Froome fresh (or should that be stale?) from Rio but this isn’t their A-team for a discipline like this, there’s no Ian Stannard or Geraint Thomas so Froome, Kwiatkowski, König and Puccio represent the powerhouses.
BMC Racing have Silvan Dillier out from the Rio velodrome where he rode the team pursuit only he’ll find today’s stage has more of a mix of team mates with the likes of Darwin Atapuma to carry.
Astana and Etixx-Quickstep should be close too, they have some strong riders while watch Tinkoff and Lotto-Jumbo to see if they can limit the damage and make the top third of the field. Orica-BikeExchange used to be a strong pick but as they blossom into a team built for stage racing in the mountains they have fewer of the team pursuit backbone but the likes of Damian Howson, Sam Bewley and Svein Tuft bring plenty of power.
|Team Sky, BMC Racing
|Orica-BikeExchange, Astana, EQS, Lotto-Jumbo
Weather: sunshine and clouds and a top temperature of 26°C for the early starters.
TV: Bora-Argon 18 are the first team off at 6.26pm Euro time and Tinkoff go last at 7.50pm and they’re expected to finish at 8.20pm. It’s on Eurosport and you can rely on Cyclingfans and steephill.tv for links to feeds and streams.