Vuelta a España stage 1 report: DSM-Firmenich benefit from early start in opening TTT

Wet conditions made for a very uncomfortable start to the Vuelta as underdog team DSM-Firmenich took top spot, with Movistar runners up.

Team DSM-Firmenich win the opening Team Time Trial on stage 1 of the 2023 Vuelta a España. Photo: © Cor Vos

Kit Nicholson
by Kit Nicholson 26.08.2023 Photography by
Cor Vos
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It was dark by the time the last team crossed the line for the opening TTT of the Vuelta a España, torrential rain bouncing off the roads of Barcelona. With the conditions worsening as the evening went on, stage 1 went in favour of early starters DSM-Firmenich.

That meant that young Italian Lorenzo Milesi took the first red jersey of the Vuelta ahead of fellow debutant Max Poole and French veteran Romain Bardet.

Brief stage results:

  1. DSM-Firmenich – 17:30
  2. Movistar – s.t.
  3. EF Education-EasyPost – @ 6s
  4. Soudal Quick-Step – @ 6s
  5. Groupama-FDJ – @ 6s
Go to Spain, they said. It’ll be fun, they said…

Quote of the day

As defending Vuelta champion, Remco Evenepoel and his Soudal Quick-Step teammates were last to start, and did so in very low visibility with the rain still coming down hard. Had it been dry, perhaps the riders would at least have benefited from a dusky light – I imagine the Vuelta organisers were going for atmospheric – but evidently there was no accounting for precipitation.

Evenepoel was clearly not happy as he finished the stage, and not because his team hadn’t won, rather to express displeasure at the risk they’d just endured.

“It’s like driving your car 200 kilometres an hour on the highway in the full dark without any lights.”

Asked if he thought the stage should have been cancelled or neutralised, Evenepoel directed his answer towards the organisers via post-stage media scrum.

“Just know that it can be dark at night, in the evening,” the heat of the moment gave way to a mature and passionate message from the 23 year old. “I mean, you have the whole day to do a TTT, [but] we have to wait the whole day while it was dry. Rain is rain, we cannot change the rain, but we can change the circumstances that we’re racing in, and you just have to know, we race on the limit. It’s a race, we want to win, so you risk already a lot.

“Then with all the factors coming that it’s super dark and super sketchy on these roads, it’s just… In my eyes it’s just ridiculous.”

Remco Evenepoel and Soudal Quick-Step teammates backlit in the dark during Vuelta team time trial.
‘Vuelta Stage 1’, the next project by director-cinematography duo Matt Reeves and Greig Fraser of ‘The Batman’ fame/infamy.

What’s next?

Stage 2 returns to Barcelona after starting in Mataró about 30 km along the coast. It’s expected to be a tough day out with three categorised climbs in the 183.3-km stage, the first beginning from the flag drop and the last – the infamous Montjuic – clearly intended to form a launchpad in the last 4 km. What’s expected to make it even more tricky is that Saturday’s conditions are forecast to continue into stage 2 – this will not be an ease-in-gently sprint stage typical of Grand Tour opening weekends.

Best of socials:

An afternoon of thunder storms drenched Barcelona and there was no let-up as the time trial got underway. The start ramp looked like the slickest section of the whole course, so much so that staff was called on to mop up excess water.

Lidl-Trek Admin was busy worrying about the weather, like everyone else.

Cut to…

We’re always reluctant to share crash footage, but as they all got up and are – as far as we know – all ok, this imitation of ten-pin bowling is illustrative of the carnage on course. It’s apparently the same place De Plus crashed, along with many others.

Chad’s coming for my job.

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