Marbella, Spain – The BMC Racing Team captured Saturday’s opening team time trial at the Vuelta a España as Peter Velits pulled on the first leader’s red jersey of the three-week race.
Powering their BMC timemachine TM01s along the flat, 7.4-kilometer course, five BMC Racing Team riders crossed the line in 8:10, one second faster than both runner-up Tinkoff-Saxo and ORICA-GreenEDGE in third.
In taking the victory, the reigning world team time trial champions won their third team time trial of the season while earning their 30th victory of the season. That matches a team record set in both 2013 and 2014.
Receiving the race leader’s jersey was a special moment for Velits. The past Slovakian national time trial champion missed much of the first half of the season after undergoing surgery on his left leg for an overuse injury.
“I am super happy,” Velits said. “We did everything perfectly – everything that we spoke about was done to plan. The only thing we did not discuss was who would cross the line first. The last kilometer went so fast, we really did not change position or think about who was going to be first to the line. We just wanted to get to the finish as quickly as possible.”
Timing in Saturday evening’s event did not count toward individual standings after concerns were raised about the nature of the course. A narrow wooden bridge and dirt and sand on the course led race organizers to only count the time toward team standings.
“The circuit was nice for the people, but it was not nice for the team,” BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said. “But we have respect for the organization and for this reason we went full gas to try to win. We have the best team, world champions. After the Tour de France, this was a big objective for the team.”
Tejay van Garderen, who joins Velits at the Vuelta as two of the six riders on the BMC Racing Team’s squad that won the world title last September in Spain, said the team was not going to ride cautiously.
“Being world champions gives us an incentive to put it out on the line and really go for it,” van Garderen said. “The tactic we had was perfect. On a course like this, you can’t really go much faster with more than five guys. So we picked five guys to bring it to the end and we had the rest just line it out from the start and do a one-kilometer effort.”
For the second straight time in a grand tour, the BMC Racing Team took the lead after its opening stage. In July, Rohan Dennis won the Stage 1 individual time trial at the Tour de France.
This is the first time a BMC Racing Team rider has led the Vuelta a España … Velits was also part of the winning team time trial squad when it opened the race in 2010. He also won the Stage 17 individual time trial the same year on his way to finishing third overall … Joining Velits and van Garderen on the winning squad was Darwin Atapuma, Marcus Burghardt, Alessandro De Marchi, Jempy Drucker, Amaël Moinard, Joey Rosskopf and Samuel Sánchez … The BMC Racing Team has won seven races in the past seven days: two stages of the Arctic Race of Norway last Saturday and Sunday, the final stage of the Eneco Tour on Sunday and stages of the USA Pro Challenge on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
Photo: Cor Vos