Movistar Team set the opening Team Time Trial of the 2014 Vuelta a España alight on Saturday evening to take a resounding victory and get their race off to the perfect start.
The squad were the last of 22 teams to take to the start ramp as the setting sun cast a glowing light across the southern Spanish city of Jerez. With nine Speedmax CFs primed to take on the short, yet highly technical 12.6 km test, the team set off to once again show themselves at the very top level in this discipline.
At the halfway split the Blues were a handful of seconds off the time set by early pace-setters, Cannondale. Nevertheless, the team rose to the challenge over the second half of the course. Riding together as a perfect unit, Movistar Team proved that the TTT is all about working strongly together rather than having a handful of strong individuals. Each member took their turn to keep the pace high as they committed to their lines through every corner, whilst not dropping any of their nine riders.
TT specialist, Jonathan Castroviejo, was the first to cross the line and take the race lead as the team stopped the clock at 14.13, six seconds quicker than Cannondale.
Movistar Team in control for first week
Perhaps even more crucial than the stage victory is the advantage Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde now hold going into the rest of the race: Alberto Contador of Tinkoff-Saxo currently lies 19 seconds back, while Chris Froome of Team Sky is already 25 seconds off the race lead.
The race leader’s Red Jersey transferred onto the shoulders of Valverde yesterday from Castroviejo following the team captain’s higher placing in the sprint finish to stage two. With the first major summit rendezvous not set until this Sunday, there’s a high probability the team will hold onto the jersey through the sprint stages and short uphill finishes on the cards for the rest of the week.