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Vuelta a Espana 2019 preview: Opening team time trial chance to flex muscles

Joe Robinson
23 Aug 2019

A fast and furious team time trial around the coastal streets of Torrevieja

The 74th Vuelta a Espana starts this Saturday, 24th August, with a pan-flat 13.4 team time trial through the streets of Torrevieja on Spain's Costa Blanca.

The course will be defined by one thing, speed. There are zero metres of elevation, very few technical sections and long waves of straight road to power in to.

The time gaps between the favourites on General Classification should be negligible in the grand scheme of things as the stage is only 13.4km long but, it could be the perfect place to put down a huge mark on intent ahead of three weeks of brutal racing. 

Chances are British fans will have heard of Torrevieja, the small town that plays host to the Vuelta a Espana's first stage. 

That's because, being just an hour up the road from Alicante airport, Torrevieja is an ex-pat mecca with its all-inclusive hotels, Irish pubs and full English breakfast-serving cafes.

In fact, it is so familiar with us Brits that in 2004 Torrevieja had the largest number of British residents of any town in Spain, so much so that the locals nicknamed it the 'Costa del Yorkshire'.

With this in mind, you would expect support for Team Ineos to be just as vocal as when racing at home especially considering home riders Ian Stannard and Tao Geoghegan Hart will be on the start ramp.

Team Ineos are always among the very best in the world at the team time trial discipline and should finish within seconds of the winning time, however Cyclist predicts they will lack the firepower to ride into red on the opening day.

Instead, the clear favourites for stage victory will be Jumbo-Visma who come to this Vuelta with General Classification hopes for Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk, both of whom have already podiumed at Grand Tours this season.

Any team with Roglic is going to fare well in a team time trial but add in the German Panzerwagen Tony Martin to the list and you have a truly formidable force. Just look back to Stage 2 of the Tour de France as a reference.

Realistically, any team with General Classification hopes should be able to stem their time loss on the opening day to no more than 15 seconds and so expect the likes of Movistar, Astana and Education First to all cross the line in a similar time.

One team that may spring a surprise is Mitchelton-Scott. Always a well-oiled team time trial machine, they usually finish there or thereabouts regardless of the team they bring to the party.

Also consider the chances of Deceuninck-QuickStep, who are World Champions in this discipline. Their team is a mixture of diesel engines like Tim Declercq and Petr Vakoc alongside real thoroughbreds Fabio Jakobsen and Philippe Gilbert, which seems perfectly suited to this opening day.

Finally, some information as to where to watch this opening stage.

Owners of Freeview should unite and take over because Stage 1 of the Vuelta will not be available to watch live this Saturday. That's due to ITV4 opting to air day two of the World Series of Darts instead of the stage.

An hour-long highlights show will be aired at 22:00 however, once the darts has finished and just before ITV4's Sunday night film, Tremors.

Eurosport 1 will be showing Stage 1 live from 17:15 BST through to the climax of the stage at 20:00. In fact, Vuelta live coverage ends a day of fantastic cycling coverage for us cycling fans.

It all starts at 10:00 with highlights of the 2018 Vuelta and continues with highlights of the Tour of Denmark at 11:00. Live coverage starts at 12:30 with the Tour de l'Avenir as the world's best under 23s tackle a summit finish stage in Tignes.

Roll on 14:00 and you can watch live coverage of Stage 4 of the Tour of Denmark for the next 90 minutes. By 16:30, there's a 45 minute window to fit in your Sunday lunch before the Vuelta kicks off at 17:15. 

A Sunday well spent.

Page 1 of 2Vuelta a Espana 2019 preview: Opening team time trial chance to flex muscles

Page 1 of 2Vuelta a Espana 2019 preview: Opening team time trial chance to flex muscles