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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, August 26, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. - Edmund Hillary

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Vuelta a España stage one team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the stage results.

Winner Rohan Dennis' BMC team sent me this:

25 August, 2018, Malaga (ESP): Rohan Dennis did was he does best on the opening stage of this year's Vuelta a España today, time trialling to victory and into the first red leader's jersey of the race after an impressive performance on the streets of Malaga. 

Dennis was the fourth-to-last rider to roll off the ramp on stage 1 and as he started his 8km effort, he was chasing the benchmark of 9'46" set by Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky).

The reigning Australian national time trial champion proved why he was one of the pre-race favorites, settling into his rhythm quickly and powering around the first half of the course to knock five seconds off the best time at the intermediate checkpoint.

Dennis left everything out on the road on the fast run into the finish before powering across the line in an impressively strong time of 9'40" which proved more than enough to take the stage win and the first leader's jersey of the race for a second consecutive year.

BMC Racing Team also proved the strength and depth of the team's Vuelta a España roster today with Alessandro De Marchi putting in a determined effort in Malaga to secure seventh at the end of the stage, 21 seconds behind Dennis. While, Dylan Teuns and Brent Bookwalter put in solid rides to finish 11th and 14th respectively.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis going really, really fast. Sirotti photo

Richie Porte, who is making his return to racing at the third and final Grand Tour of the year, posted a time of 10'30" which was comparable to a number of the General Classification contenders in the race.

Interview with Rohan Dennis:

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:

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 peformance. 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."

Here's the update from second-place Michal Kwiatkowski's Team Sky:

Michal Kwiatkowski got the Vuelta a Espana off to a strong start with second place in the opening time trial. The Pole clocked an impressive time of nine minutes and 46 seconds across the eight-kilometre course in Malaga. After a brief stint on the hot seat Kwiatkowski was forced to relinquish top spot to Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) as the Australian put in a time six seconds quicker to claim the win.

Michal Kwiatkowski

Michal Kwiatkowski turning in a first-class ride. Sirotti photo

Dylan van Baarle was the fastest of the early runners and the first rider under the 10-minute mark. The Dutchman’s time stood up well, good enough for fifth on the day, 20 seconds back on the red jersey.

Spanish TT champion Jonathan Castroviejo also put in a strong marker with the seventh best time, just a second back on teammate Van Baarle.

Elsewhere Grand Tour debutants Tao Geoghegan Hart (18th, +24”) and Pavel Sivakov (38th, +31”) impressed in their first taste of La Vuelta.

Coming close to the stage win Kwiatkowski admitted he was disappointed, but looking forward to the race. He explained: "It was a good ride from me but at the end of the day not good enough to win. Congratulations to Rohan Dennis for such an impressive ride. He was unbeatable today I would say. I gave it my best and I was trying to win the stage, having the split times of Castroviejo and the other guys. I was happy with my ride but at the end of the day chapeau to Rohan.

"We are racing to win the races so of course when you are there on the hot seat you have to feel disappointment. It's in our genes to try to win. But the Vuelta is three weeks long so I'm looking forward to the next days," he told Eurosport.
Sport Director Gabriel Rasch was a happy man after the finish, highlighting some strong performances.

He said: "I think we can be really happy. We've had a good start. Kwiato was so close to the win. I think he got everything out more or less. Rohan Dennis was just too fast. Then those young guys, Tao, Pavel, Dylan all did a super time trial and they really showed they deserve to be here and they are really promising talents for the future. It's a big step up in their career and for the years to come.

"We've had a good start and now we need to focus day by day on the small things."

And here's what Team Bora-hansgrohe had to say about the stage:

Riders were welcomed to the start of the 73rd Vuelta a España with beautiful weather in the city of Malaga. A late start made for more hospitable conditions on what had been a sweltering day, making for some fast times on the 8km opening Individual Time Trial on a fast and flat course. The stage allowed some riders to gauge their form, while others would be pushing hard from the off to take the stage win and the race’s first red jersey. Emanuel Buchmann finished the day as the fastest BORA-hansgrohe rider, taking a time of 10:08, finishing faster than many of the GC favourites, as both Rafał Majka and the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, finished strongly, showing they are recovering well from their efforts at the Tour de France.

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan was 58th, at 38 seconds.

The Stage
For this first stage of the 2018 Vuelta, the route was short, but not necessarily sweet. At 8km, the distance itself wouldn’t be testing, but on an Individual Time Trial, the course doesn’t have to be long to be hard. While flat from start to finish, with barely a rise in gradient on the Malaga street circuit, there were a few sections where riders could be caught out. In the first few kilometres, the stage would take in the harbour headland – the most exposed section of the parcours – before heading back along the coast and then further inland. The flat terrain and wide open roads meant high speeds were likely, and the possibility of being the first to wear the red jersey of race leader would make riders push that little bit harder.

The Team Tactics
There were a long three weeks of racing coming up, and the team would be looking to test their form. Without a time trial specialist in the squad to push for the stage win, the main aim today would be to finish safely and without losing time. Still recovering from his crash at the Tour de France, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, would give the stage his best and concentrate on his recovery. It would be important not to expend too much energy on this first stage, with the race hitting more hilly terrain early on, and the possibility of a sprint finish on tomorrow’s first road stage.

The Race
A later start time meant riders didn’t have to contend with the day’s hottest temperatures, although the early starters still had to ride in 32-degree heat. With most finishing in a time of over ten minutes and few managing to finish below, Lukas Pöstlberger, the Austrian National Road Champion, saw himself in the provisional top ten for the first part of the day, having taken a time of 10:14, before being passed in the standings by Rafał Majka and Emanuel Buchmann with times of 10:13 and 10:08 respectively. As the sun dipped low over the course, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, made his way down the start ramp – riding today in the black, green and white BORA-hansgrohe skinsuit instead of the more familiar rainbow stripes – as the last of the team to start. Riding confidently, Peter crossed the line in a time of 10:18, and with all of the riders in, the sensations were good and the team was looking ahead to the twenty days still to come.

From the Finish Line
"I did feel really good today and this is a promising start to the Vuelta. I judged the course well and timed my efforts in a very good way. I was able to really push until the end. There is still a long way to go, but it's always better to have a few seconds on the right side from the beginning." – Emanuel Buchmann

"Although I'm definitely getting better every day, I can feel that I still need more time to reach my top form. However, I tried my best in the time-trial in Malaga and I will try again tomorrow. I think that in addition to the goals I have at the Vuelta, it is important to work for and support Emmanuel, as much as I can."– Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion

"We didn’t have a specialist for today's opening stage so we can be very happy with the performance of the guys. Emu rode an exceptional time trial and already built an advantage of some seconds over some other GC guys. Rafa was really strong as well. Peter is still not at 100% but he is improving day by day. Tomorrow‘s stage should suit him, we will see how the race goes and how his legs are." – Steffen Radochla, Sports Director 

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