The final Grand Tour of the season got underway in Las Salinas de Torrevieja, Spain on Saturday with a team time trial. EF Education First Pro Cycling clocked the early fast time, crossing the finish line with six riders at 14’58. By race end, the time was good for fourth place on the Vuelta’s opening stage, seven seconds slower than the winning time set by Astana.
“We didn’t make any mistakes,” said sport director Juanma Garate. “There were a few places that we could have gone a bit faster, but we didn’t make any mistakes, and the overall performance was very good. We’re all excited to have the first stage done and see what we can do in the coming days.”
The stage one team time trial was short and pan-flat. The 13.4-kilometer began on the edge of Las Salinas, with the course flanked by salt-making lagoons, before running through the center of the coastal town of Torrevieja. From there, riders were sent seaside where the route become a bit more technical. Grand Tour first-timer Logan Owen and road captain Mitch Docker both fell off the pace during the collective effort before reaching the finish line in Torrevieja.
“That was part of our plan,” said sport director Ken Vamarcke. “They both rode really hard in the beginning and then dropped off exactly where they were supposed to.”
Lawson Craddock credits the team’s preparation with the results.
“We put a lot of thought and focus into the team time trial,” he said. “We made adjustments after we reconned the course, and we executed the plan we set forth. We did a great job of working together to achieve the best possible result. It wasn’t enough to win, but we can absolutely walk away with our heads held high heading into tomorrow’s stage.
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