Astana struck the first blow on the Vuelta a Espana on Saturday, taking the victory in an opening team time trial played out over a spectacular background of salt lakes.
The Kazakh outfit clocked 14min15s for the 13.4km course which took in the famed salt flats of Torrevieja on Spain’s south-east coast.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step were two seconds off the pace with Team Sunweb in third spot, five seconds behind.
Victory on Saturday put Miguel Angel Lopez into the leader’s red jersey.
“I’m delighted, we did everything right,” said Lopez, the rider nicknamed ‘Superman’ who said there had been no pre-planning over which member of the team would have the honour of crossing the line first.
“No decision was made on this — it was done at that moment. We have the red jersey and we are going to take things calmly. I have a great team at my side to support me.”
It was a forgettable opening day, however, for time-trial favourites Jumbo-Visma who suffered a collective fall on a hot, windless day.
Amongst the victims was one of the race favourites Primoz Roglic, the Slovenian ex-ski jumper who came into the race having won the Tour de Romandie and Tirreno-Adriatico titles this year.
They recovered to finish 40 seconds off the lead in what was a disappointing start for a team which had captured the corresponding time trials at the Giro and Tour de France.
Sunday’s second stage is a hilly 199.6km ride from Benidorm to Calpe.
Vuelta a Espana 2019 – stage 1 results (Salinas de Torrevieja – Torrevieja TTT):
|4||EF Education First|
|16||Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|17||AG2R La Mondiale|
|20||Euskadi Basque Country|
Vuelta a Espana 2019 – general classification after stage 1:
|1||Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana)|
|2||Dario Cataldo (Astana)|
|3||Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)|
|4||Ion Izagirre (Astana)|
|5||Luis León Sanchez (Astana)|
|6||Gorka Izagirre (Astana)|
|7||Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|8||Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|9||Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|10||Maximiliano Richeze (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|11||James Knox (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|12||Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|13||Maximilian Walscheid (Team Sunweb)|
|14||Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb)|
|15||Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb)|
|16||Casper Pedersen (Team Sunweb)|
|17||Robert Power (Team Sunweb)|
|18||Tejay Van Garderen (EF Education First)|
|19||Hugh Carthy (EF Education First)|
|20||Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First)|