Movistar, who have come to the 2014 Vuelta with a double-pronged attack for the overall title through Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana, bossed the opening team time trial in Jerez de la Frontera this evening to put Jonathan Castroviejo into the race leader's jersey.
The Spanish outfit rode the 12.6 kilometre course in a time of 14 minutes 13 seconds, 6 seconds ahead of both Cannondale Pro Cycling and Orica-GreenEdge.
Team Sky, led by 2011 Vuelta runner-up Chris Froome, had a disappointing evening, finishing in 11th place, 27 seconds down on the winners.
It was a double repeat of 2012 when Movistar won the opening team time trial in Pamplona and got Castroviejo into the race leader’s jersey, although Cannondale’s surprisingly strong performance may give Peter Sagan an opportunity to take the red jersey on Stage 2.
After the stage, Castroviejo said: “I thank all my team-mates to have allowed me to cross the line first. They all would have deserved it as much as I do. I’m particularly happy because I became a father last week and this is a very nice gift from my team.
“Everything went according to the plan. Firstly, we had to avoid crashing, secondly we had to respect the orders set by our directeurs sportifs for swapping turns.
“This victory is just as great as it was two years ago in Pamplona. I was already lucky enough to wear the red jersey. I don’t think I’ll be able to keep it for long.
“Sprinters like Peter Sagan and John Degenkolb are just a few seconds down. They’ll go for time bonus. This is a wonderful day for me but I’ll soon be back at work at the service of Nairo Quintana.”
Sky’s Chris Froome accepted the result was disappointing but said the deficit was insignificant in the context of a three week race.
“I’ve got to admit that we were all hoping for a better result. But a difference of 30 seconds is not much. There are 21 days of racing. I’ll try to make up time wherever I can. Any opportunity, you take it.
Speaking of the team time trial, he said: “On a course like that, you give everything regardless of what’s coming up next. It suited teams with riders able to accelerate after every corner.
“We’ve had a few radio problems. It didn’t help our communication. Movistar has been impressive today, so was Tinkoff-Saxo,” he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.