The 2012 Vuelta a Espana didn’t take long to spark into life.
Despite the pre-race protestations of Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) that he would struggle for form in the opening week of his comeback Grand Tour, the Spaniard unleashed wave upon wave of attacks on the stage closing, first category, Alto de Arrate, shedding all but the best climbers in the race.
Among the select group was Britain’s Chris Froome, who withstood the salvos of Contador and two other home riders, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).
A Vuelta that continues in this vein will be talked of for years. Here are the highlights of today’s stage from official UCI WorldTour photographer, Stefano Sirotti.
Discuss in the forum
Rodriguez and Valverde look on in disbelief as Contador launches another of his trademark assualts on the steepest gradients
Their expressions of disbelief turn to grimaces of pain as they set about hauling back the multiple Grand Tour winner
The effort is written also on the face of Chris Froome, riding in his trademark ‘elbows out’ style
Froome’s gallant effort saw him cross the line ahead of Contador, the joint pre-race favourite
The day belonged to Valverde, stage winner and new race leader