The Vuelta a Espana is third and final Grand Tour of the season and a victory would be cherished dearly by any of the contenders, whether multiple Grand Tour winners of those seeking a first win in a three-week race.
Juan Jose Cobo saw his title defence make the perfect start after his Movistar teammates pulled him around the 16.5km course in the northern town of Pamplona, famous for the ‘running of the bulls’.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff-Bank) will also be feeling bullish after a strong team performance for the former and a strong individual performance from the latter.
Here are the key moments from stage one captured by official UCI WorldTour photographer, Stefano Sirotti.
Alberto Contador looked ominously strong on his return to Grand Tour racing, leading his Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank squad to sixth
Team Sky were easily the fastest at the first time check, but faded to finish fifth
The bull ring at Pamplona made an imposing finish to the opening stage of the 2012 Vuelta
Team Sky faded after a strong start to enter the Pamplona bull ring fifth overall
The night belonged to the Spanish Movistar team of defending champion, Juan Jose Cobo