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BMC Racing took an early lead at the top of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana standings after winning Saturday’s opening stage in Nimes with a time of 15 minutes and 58 seconds.

The team time trial began in France and tested groups over a 13.7-kilometre course comprising 20 corners, and the team’s official Twitter account confirmed BMC’s victory:

The Vuelta begins in earnest on Sunday as riders prepare for the 203.4-kilometre journey from Nimes to Gruissan, where the BMC Racing riders will be hopeful of maintaining their strong start.

Rohan Dennis will wear the red jersey after finishing at the front in BMC Racing’s winning performance on Saturday, and Gracenote Olympic took note of the fact it won’t be his first time in such a position:

Quick Step Floors were one of two teams to finish as joint-runners up, ending the opening stage six seconds off the pace alongside Team Sunweb, while Team Sky were nine seconds adrift of the leaders.

Cycling Hub provided a breakdown of the top-placed finishers in Stage 1:

And here’s how the general classification looks leading up to the first long-haul stage:

BMC came into the time trial as favourites to win Stage 1 and lived up to expectations by becoming the only team to crack the 16-minute mark close to the end of Saturday’s event.

The frequent turning required on the Nimes course meant teams were largely prevented from getting up to flying speeds in what proved to be a demanding test of technique above all else.

Four of BMC Racing’s eight riders were in the team that won the Catalunya team time trial in March of this year.

Aside from the wealth of top riding talent on display, Nimes also deserved praise for seeing to it that the aesthetic of the opening stage was in-keeping with the culture of the city, via The Cycling Podcast:

Lotto-Soudal and Cannondale-Drapac were among the more well-known outfits to take part in the early phases of the stage, while Bora-Hansgrohe and Team Sunweb featured amid the middle of the 24-team running order.

But the team time trial was always expected to be contested among an elite few: Quick Step Floors, Team Sky and eventual winners BMC Racing, who didn’t disappoint.

There were crashes and slips that affected some outfits, but BMC’s ride went by without a hitch, with the team’s greatest asset and potential contender for the Vuelta crown, Dennis, accepting the red jersey after finishing first:

Team Sky will accept the nine seconds separating them from BMC Racing as a foundation from which to launch their Vuelta hopes, with poster boy Chris Froome able to see that as a deficit he has the ability to cut down.

Trek-Segafredo were the final team to take to the course, and 34-year-old Alberto Contador began the final race of his career before heading into retirement later this year.

The veteran looked calm and focused in the seconds before beginning the last race of his professional career, as shown by Cycling TV:

Contador couldn’t spur his team to fight for the Stage 1 crown, however, and they ended up 11th overall, 35 seconds off the pace set by BMC.

The biggest disappointment of the stage, however, went to Fabio Aru and his team, Astana Pro Team, who will be eyeing big improvements after they finished 41 seconds behind the leader in 16th place.

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