Jumbo-Visma started the Vuelta a Espana in the manner they finished Le Tour… on the winners podium! The Spanish grand tour kicked off with team time trial in Utrecht and the Dutch favourites were smooth, synchronous and, crucially, swifter over the 23.4km flat parcours, finishing 13 seconds ahead of INEOS Grenadiers with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl a further second behind. First Jumbo Bee over the line was veteran Robert Gesink, who will wear the rojo jersey on home roads tomorrow.
The organisers said the second week of the Vuelta would be the toughest, and boy they were right. From the Alto del Naranco and La Covadonga to the fearsome queen stage finishing atop L’Aubisque, the peloton have done nothing but face climb after climb after climb …
What a Queen stage! 196km in la belle France, three category one climbs before the fearsome Aubisque, a massive 41-rider break, and it all came down to three riders for the win. Strongest of the mismatched trio was Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) who distanced Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) and Katusha’s Egor Silin in the last metres to take his first ever Grand Tour win. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Chris Froome (SKY) attacked each other all the way up the last ascent but neither gave an inch or a second – the Colombian still holds red by a margin of 54secs. Best plan of the day award goes to Orica-BikeExchange, who end with Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates in third and fourth place overall.