Vuelta a Espana 2020: Defending champion Primoz Roglic wins opening stage; Chris Froome struggles

Roglic produced his trademark late kick in the final 500m to open a gap of just a few seconds for a comfortable win that puts him in the race leader's red jersey.

Agence France-Presse October 20, 2020 23:57:42 IST
Vuelta a Espana 2020: Defending champion Primoz Roglic wins opening stage; Chris Froome struggles

Team Jumbo Visma's Primoz Roglic celebrates his victory in Stage 1 of the 2020 Vuelta a Espana. AP

Arrate, Spain: Defending champion Primoz Roglic won stage one of the Vuelta a Espana on Tuesday while former winner Chris Froome rolled in 11 minutes behind the peloton.

Roglic, the runner up in the Tour de France, outsprinted an elite group that had survived the steep final 5km climb to Alto de Arrate.

Meanwhile, Froome, in his final race for Ineos, was abandoned by the team as they set the pace up most of the final climb for their race leader Richard Carapaz, who was second.

Irishman Dan Martin of Israel Start-Up Nation, the team Froome will join next season, finished third.

Froome had lost touch before the last ascent.

"I got a bit caught out coming into the penultimate climb, I started pretty far back and got stuck behind a crash at the bottom," said Froome, a four time Tour de France winner who suffered a horrific crash 18-months ago.

"I'm really happy to be here, I'm really, really happy to be racing a Grand Tour again after two years of not doing any Grand Tours and just going to take the race day by day and try and do as much for the team as I can," the British rider said.

Roglic produced his trademark late kick in the final 500m to open a gap of just a few seconds for a comfortable win that puts him in the race leader's red jersey.

Roglic arrived as defending champion but with a point to prove after his late meltdown on the Tour de France cost him relinquish the yellow jersey.

"I'm very happy — the team again showed that they are all really strong," said the former ski-jumper who is escorted by three of the same Jumbo-Visma teammates as on the Tour de France in all-rounder Tom Dumoulin, American climber Sepp Kuss and Kiwi climber George Bennett.

"They worked perfectly the whole day. Then I was able to win, so top — it's a beautiful start. I'll try to enjoy it day by day," said Roglic of the mountainous race that winds up in Madrid two weeks on Sunday.

Kuss has the blue polka dots jersey as best climber after the man from Colorado crested the summit of the Arrate climb first.

Spaniard Enric Mas of the Movistar team has the best under-25's white jersey 11 sec back from Roglic.

The reorganised cycling schedule meant that on Tuesday two major tours raced on the same day. Roglic's victory completed another good day for Slovenia as compatriot Jan Tratnik had earlier won the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia.

The Vuelta set off almost two months late from Irun instead of from the Netherlands as originally planned, with few fans in attendance for a 173km rolling run through the Basque Country.

The original route had been Dutch flat, but instead the 18-stage Vuelta started with a bang on this rolling terrain with Frenchman Thibaut Pinot and Dutch former Giro champion Dumoulin losing time already.

The race passed some of the region's prettiest spots with Roglic's Jumbo leading the peloton as it flew past the sweeping horse-shoe bay at San Sebastian.

With a blustery wind there were a series of falls with Dani Martinez of Education First taking a while to dust himself off and carry on and Michael Woods also falling and losing time.

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