The Helta Skelta Vuelta is underway.
BMC’s Rohan Dennis won the short 8 kilometer speed race around Malaga by six seconds over Team Sky’s GC hope Michal Kwiatkowski. Let’s rough that in as a little over a second faster per kilometer for the Australian time trial specialist. Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) finished a second further back for third place.
Dennis had a plan for winning and executed to perfection. “I knew that basically the race finished at the top of the hill and you can’t really take any time out from there,” said Dennis. “You might lose one or two seconds, but that’s it. So I just thought I’d go all-in to the top.
The Australian built on the success of his Giro time trial victory back in May. “Honestly I was just thinking about trying to get a stage win, an individual stage win at the Vuelta. And I tried to top off the three wins in each Grand Tour. That was the first goal, to get a win in the Vuelta – especially after doing what I did in the Giro.”
Richie Porte (BMC) began this Giro suffering from gastroenteritis and wasn’t at his best. As he noted a few days before the start, he’s at no where near the form he had in the Tour de France before his unfortunate crash. Given those circumstances, his time of 10:30 should probably be judged as a positive — especially in relation of several of his rivals.
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) all clocked a 10:19. Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), who hopes to rescue a disappointing season that included a total flame-out in Le Tour, was one second off their pace.
In contrast to his rough start at the Tour de France, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) posted a time of 10:10 which surely deserves a gold star next to his name. Fellow Colombian Miguel Ángel López (Astana) was close by at 10:14.
On the other hand, Rigoberto Urán (EF-Education First) didn’t have a great ride at 10:24. Urán seems to alternate good years and bad years — 2nd overall in the Tour de France last year and a withdrawal this year. Let’s hope he can break that cycle as the Vuelta moves on.
Other highlights? Step up home town hero Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). The 38 year old put in an impressive performance with a finish time of 10:03.
It’s a weird thing but we have a mental block on confusing Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) with Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). They just kinda feel like the same person with the exact same results. In Malaga, Kellerman went four seconds faster at 10:02.
That was just a nice tasty little tapas as the Helta Skelta Vuelta is off and running.