Our outfit began the last Grand Tour of the season on the right foot.
Tenth team to roll down the ramp in Galicia, at the start of the 71st Vuelta a España, Etixx – Quick-Step rode a fast and solid team time trial, which saw the riders set the best time at the two checkpoints, before going into the hot seat at the finish, after becoming the first squad up until that point to cross the line in under 31 minutes. The 27.8-km long course between Balneario de Laias and Parque Nautico de Castrelo de Miño was a lot about finding the right pace and digging dip on the winding and testing roads of northern Spain, which was hosting the start of the race for the second time this decade.
After a strong combined effort, Maxime Bouet, Gianluca Brambilla, Yves Lampaert, Gianni Meersman and Niki Terpstra were the five Etixx – Quick-Step men to take the lead in the provisional standings, where they stayed for a good chunk of time, until four teams managed to improve their time. Sky won the TTT, beating Movistar and Orica-Bike-Exchange, while Peter Kennaugh took command of the general classification by four hundredths of a second.
Fifth at the finish, just 22 seconds down, was a result which left sport director Rik van Slycke satisfied: "The squad did really well today, had a good race, without any big mistakes. It's just that a few teams turned out to be stronger than us, but considering everything, we can be pretty happy with the result. Maybe we could have come 3-4 seconds better, but it's not the end of the world. Today we showed that we are strong and ready to fight for the next stages."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele