Good start to the Vuelta a España for Quick-Step Floors
Our team took second place on the opening stage of the season's final Grand Tour.
Julian Alaphilippe, Eros Capecchi, David De La Cruz, Tim Declercq, Bob Jungels, Yves Lampaert, Enric Mas, Niki Terpstra and Matteo Trentin put in a fine effort on the opening stage of the 72nd Vuelta a España, a 13.7km-long team time trial staged by Nîmes, run over a technical and at some times tricky parcours, which was made even more difficult by the wind which regularly changed direction.
Nîmes – which catches the eye with its superb and spectacular 2000-year-old Roman monuments, that led many to nickname it the "French Rome" – hosted the third foreign start in the history of the Vuelta, which kicked off with a team time trial for the eighth consecutive year.
Our young squad blitzed the course in 16:04, setting the fastest provisional time and going into the hot seat, where they remained until BMC hit the line and improved that result by only six seconds. Until the stage came to a conclusion, no other outfit managed to get onto one of the first two places, despite some of them boasting strong time trial set-ups, so Quick-Step Floors finished second on the day, for what was our squad's 15th top-3 finish in a Grand Tour stage this season.
Quick-Step Floors' display of strength left sport director Rik Van Slycke content at the end of the day: "We had a plan and the guys did their job from start to finish, so we can't say that we lost seconds here or there. Of course, we would have liked to win, but we can still be satisfied with our work. Now let's see what tomorrow's stage will have in store, because there's a chance of crosswinds, which can be a huge game changer."
Bob Jungels is racing two Grand Tours in one season for the first time in his career, and the Luxembourger, twice a winner of the white jersey at the Giro d'Italia, is off to a great start, as he leads the youth standings: "We were well prepared and gave everything out there. The course wasn't easy, but we managed to complete the stage without any incidents and in second, just a few seconds off the win. We can be happy with the result, the legs are good and we can build on today's placing. It's nice to lead a classification so early in the race, it's something that really motivates you for the next three weeks."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele