Pre-stage favourite Rohan Dennis won stage one of the La Vuelta a Espana in Malaga to take the race’s first leader’s jersey today.
The Australian blitzed the 8km individual time-trial in 9:39 to beat Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski by six seconds to join a select group of riders to have won stages in all three grand tours.
Belgium’s Victor Campenaerts was a further second back in third.
Dennis said afterwards Kwiatkowski had set the pace high in the race agaist the clock.
“I was hoping his time would be a little slower so there would be less stress coming into it.”
He added that he gave his everything on the course and hoped to win.
“I knew that basically the race finished on the top of the hill and you could not take any more time out from there. You might lose one or two seconds but that is it.”
He concluded by saying he thought about trying to get an individual stage win at the final grand tour on the calendar.
“To get a win at the Vuelta was the first goal, especially after what I did at the Giro.”
Spain’s former champion Alejandro Valverde was 24 seconds back in 16th, with Stevan Kruijswijk of the Netherlands 29 seconds off the pace in 28th.
Simon Yates, who led this year’s Giro until three days from the end, finished 30th, 29 seconds back, with Nairo Quintana half a minute behind in 34th.
South Africa’s Ryan Gibbons finished 47th, 35 seconds behind Dennis, Louis Meintjes 113th, 56 seconds back, and Johann van Zyl 142nd, one minute and five seconds behind the race leader.