Nicolas Roche and Sam Bennett start well in Vuelta a España

Roche helps Team Sunweb to third place in opening stage, Bennett’s team finish fifth

The Astana team celebrate their first stage win in the Vuelta. Photograph: Javier Lizon/EPA

The Astana team celebrate their first stage win in the Vuelta. Photograph: Javier Lizon/EPA

 

Nicolas Roche and Sam Bennett got the Vuelta a España off to a strong start on Saturday, helping their teams to strong performances in the opening stage. Roche was part of a powerful performance by the Team Sunweb squad, which finished third on the stage. The riders were five seconds behind the victorious Astana Pro Team, and three seconds off the pace of Deceuninck-QuickStep.

“We knew we had a good team here for this event and we were hoping to sneak up there among the top teams,” said team coach Luke Roberts. “The guys did a really solid ride. There weren’t many points where they could have gone any faster so we should be really pleased to come away with our first podium at the Vuelta on the opening day of racing.”

Sam Bennett’s Bora-Hansgrohe squad also performed well, netting fifth. The team were 13 seconds off the fastest time.

“We couldn’t expect a better start to this year’s La Vuelta than we had,” said team sports director Patxi Vila. “The guys worked perfectly together and found the rhythm right after the start. It was great to watch such teamwork. I think we can be really happy with this result and it gives us motivation and confidence for the upcoming stages.”

The Colombian rider Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) donned the first leader’s jersey, while Roche ended the day a fine 15th overall. Bennett is 24th.

The race continues on Sunday with a testing 199.6 kilometre stage from Benidorm to Calpe.

Vuelta a España, Spain (WorldTour)

Stage 1, team time trial, Torrevieja: 1, Astana Pro Team, 13.4 kilometres in 14 mins 51 secs; 2, Deceuninck-QuickStep, at 2 secs; 3, Team Sunweb, at 5 secs; 4, EF Education First, at mins 7 secs; 5, Bora-Hansgrohe, at 13 secs

General Classification: 1, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) 14 mins 51 secs; 2, D. Cataldo (Astana Pro Team); 3, J. Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team); 4, I. Izagirre Insausti (Astana Pro Team); 5, L. León Sanchez (Astana Pro Team); 6, G. Izagirre Insausti (Astana Pro Team) all same time

Irish: 15, N. Roche (Team Sunweb) at 5 secs; 24, S. Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 13 secs

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