Movistar has won the opening stage of the Vuelta a Espana.
The Spanish squad of defending champion, Juan Jose Cobo, set a fastest 18.51 over the 16.5km course in Pamplona, northern Spain.
Rabobank finished second, some 10 seconds down on Movistar, while Omega Pharma-QuickStep was third with the same time.
Britain’s Team Sky was fifth, 12 seconds behind the Spanish winners.
Jonathan Castroviejo was the first of the Movistar team across the line, followed closely by a strong home line-up that includes GC contender, Alejandro Valverde, and sprinter, JJ Rojas, as well as Cobo, the defending champion. Castroviejo, ninth in the Olympic time trial after briefly setting the fastest time, pulled on the first leader’s jersey of the 2012 Vuelta.
Rabobank, fielding a line-up that included Robert Gesink, winner of the Eneco Tour earlier this month, Bauke Molema, Matti Breschel and Lars Boom, winner of last year’s Tour of Britain, were the early pace setters, recovering from a conservative opening half of the circuit to set a time that would survive numerous challenges, but which was beaten by over ten seconds by Movistar.
Team Sky were by far the fastest at the opening checkpoint, despite fielding a squad of riders better suited to the mountains than a flat time trial on a technical circuit ending a in a bull ring, Froome excepted. But the British-registered team delivered a strong performance to finish fifth overall, and, perhaps crucially for Froome, two seconds ahead of the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank squad led by joint favourite, Alberto Contador.
The Spanish winner of the 2008 Vuelta delivered a strong performance in his return to Grand Tour racing, taking the longest turns on the front of any of his teammates. Contador had warned that the opening week of the race would be his weakest. His performance today shoes he is far from weak.
Vuelta a Espana stage one – result
1) Movistar (SPA) – 18.51
2 Rabobank (NED) +10”
3 Omega Pharma-QuickStep (BEL) +10”
4)BMC Racing (USA) +10”
5) Sky (GBR) +12”
6) Lotto-Belisol (BEL)+12”
7) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank (DEN)+15”
8) Katusha (RUS) +15”
9) Euskaltel-Euskadi (ESP) +27”
10) Astana (KAZ) +32”