BORA – hansgrohe pulls hard to keep Rafal Majka in GC contention at Vuelta opener.
Like last year, the opening stage of the Vuelta a España 2017 was a team time trial. On a very tricky city parcours in Nîmes (Fra), not just the legs decided about the results of the day, it was clearly about team work. Early off the ramp, BORA – hansgrohe managed to judge their efforts well and keep a steady pace over the 13.7 kilometers. In a time of 16:19, the team were 6th fastest today, just 21 seconds behind BMC Racing, to put Rafal Majka in a good position for the upcoming stages.
Just for the third time in La Vuelta’s history, the race started outside of Spain. Nîmes (Fra) was chosen to become the background of a spectacular team time trial on a tricky city circuit. The 13.7 kilometer parcours was a symphony of cornering, taking the squads through the famous amphitheater, Arènes de Nîmes, before climbing up the Alto de Nîme (3rd cat.) and descending fast back to the city center.
On this kind of parcours, the race is not just decided from the legs, it’s more about judging the efforts in the front, to keep a smooth rhythm and don’t smash the team early. Off the starting ramp at 5.54pm, BORA – hansgrohe kept a steady pace throughout the race. After losing the first riders on the climb of the day, the remaining squad showed strong descending skills, to push hard on the second part of the course. Crossing the line in 16:19 to take 6th place in the end, also meant limiting today’s deficit to just 21 seconds for Rafal Majka in the GC. After stage one, BORA – hansgrohe’s leader is sitting in 30th place, while R. Dennis wears tomorrow the first Red Jersey of this year’s Vuelta.
“It’s good, the boys did a great job. It’s just the first stage of the Vuelta and when you look into the third week, I don’t think five or ten seconds will decide the race. It was important to find a good rhythm and come home without any crashes. So, I think we did our job today and compared to some other GC guys our time was quite good.” – Rafal Majka
“I think we can be happy. Our goal was to limit our losses, but also not to take too much risk and finish the stage safely. It is really not easy to ride with nine riders in such a team time trial, when the parcours basically just goes from turn to turn. The guys in the back always have to use a lot of power accelerating from the corners. We tried to stay together in the beginning, before pushing hard on the climb. As planed we lost some riders there, but cornering on the second part was easier then. To lose 21 seconds in the end, is more or less what we expected, the 6th place is really good and we are happy with that.” – Patxi Vila, Sports Director.