Movistar earn top billing in Vuelta opening stage
By Alasdair Fotheringham
PAMPLONA, Spain (Reuters) - Local favorites Movistar got a rousing reception after they battled through searing heat to earn a narrow victory in the Tour of Spain's opening team time trial on Saturday.
The win saw Spaniard Jonathan Castroviejo take the race lead while the overall favorites to win the Vuelta finished in a tight following group. It was Spain's first team time trial victory in a major tour in nine years.
The Pamplona-based Movistar team, greeted by some 15,000 fans who packed out the finish in the city's bullring, were seemingly unaffected by temperatures of about 40 Celsius.
Movistar completed the largely flat 16.5km course with a technical finish on narrow cobbled streets 10 seconds ahead of Dutch team Rabobank with Belgians Omega Pharma Quick-Step third.
BMC Racing finished a second out of the top three in fourth while Britain's Sky, featuring last year's Vuelta and Tour de France runner-up Chris Froome, were fifth at 12 seconds.
Danish outfit SaxoBank, with Spain's top contender Alberto Contador, were seventh at 14 seconds, while Russia's Katusha, led by 2012 Giro d'Italia runner-up Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain, were eighth at 15 seconds.
After Castroviejo and his team mates celebrated their win, the Spaniard told reporters it was purely chance that he had led the team across the finishing line in Pamplona's bullring.
"There was nothing decided beforehand, we just went for it flat out and I happened to be the one leading," the 25-year-old said. "Considering we lost two riders early on, to be able to win on home soil is a great result for the squad. Continued...