Defending champion Primoz Roglic took the early lead in the Vuelta by winning the opening stage, a 173-km trek from Irun as the race got off to an explosive start on Tuesday.
The Slovenian powered away from a small group of top contenders with one km to go in the Alto de Arrate. Richard Carapaz took second place one second behind as his Ineos-Grenadiers teammate Chris Froome was dropped even before the final ascent, a 5.3km effort at an average gradient of 7.7%, just like Thibaut Pinot.
Dan Martin was third, also one second off the pace after Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma teammate Sepp Kuss blew the peloton apart in the last climb with a brutal acceleration.
Tom Dumoulin started as Jumbo-Visma’s co-leader but he was unable to follow when Kuss made his move and crossed the line 51 seconds behind Roglic.
“It’s nice to win, eh?” Roglic said. “I’m very happy – the team again showed that they are all really strong. They worked perfectly the whole day. Then I was able to win, so top – it’s a beautiful start. I’ll try to enjoy it day by day.
“This is just the final; before it was already quite hard. In the final climb we were going full gas, we were all suffering. We had the crazy guy – Sepp – did the climb.
“It’s quite a strange season; I had a lot of races and stress. I just want to enjoy this. It’s super nice that in these times we can still do some races.”