It was a hot, hot day. And the guys were out in the heat for a long, long time as a headwind and a slow speed in the main group meant that they were way behind schedule for finishing the stage. But the sprint finish happened and Elia Viviani brought yet another victory to Quick-Step Floors with a masterful sprint, leaving Giacomo Nizzoli (Trek-Segafredo) and the rainbow-striped Peter Sagan in his jet stream. No change in the GC placings.
It was one of those Vuelta flat stages that took in four categorised climbs and finished on the uphill. I suspect the organisers were using the term ‘flat’ in the loosest possible way. The climbs might have been a Cat 2 and three Cat 3s but it did the damage. Alejandro Valverde outsprinted Michal Kwiatkowski and Laurens De Plus for the stage win, but the Sky rider took the red from Rohan Dennis, who came in more than 13min down and tumbles to 139th.
While it might be difficult to pick a clear favourite for the overall in this year’s Vuelta a Espana, it wasn’t for today’s Stage 1 individual time trial. Michal Kwiatkowski put in a spirited bid for victory, but BMC’s Rohan Dennis didn’t buckle under the pressure from the Polish Sky rider and came in 6 seconds to the good, taking the Vuelta’s first red jersey.