It may have counted for little in the overall standings, but Marbella was the winner on the opening stage of the Vuelta de España yesterday.
Thousands of spectators flocked to the 7.4km route, which for the first time in the event’s history, saw riders racing along a jetty and across the beach, before finishing on Marbella’s paseo.
United States team BMC Racing won the neutralised team time trial, while Tour de France winner Chris Froome, who had earlier expressed concern, and his Team Sky finished down in 20th, over a minute behind BMC.
Froome’s Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas told the BBC: “Our goal was just to stay safe. It’s a big disappointment really to have a neutralised stage like that because we were all looking forward to going full gas and having a good race.
“When the organisers said there weren’t going to be any times taken for the general classification, we decided to take it easy and stay upright. If everyone had have gone flat out, it might have been quite dangerous.”
Other race favourites adopted a similar policy as Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde’s Movistar team finished ninth.
The opening stage of the Vuelta was broadcast live by TVE and Marbella looked absolutely stunning in the sunshine as the teams took to the track, and police and organisers reported that the race had passed without incident.
The race begins for real today with a 158.7km stage from Alhuarin de la Torre to Caminito del Rey.