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“Now we've made sure that our work during the winter paid off - we're in a good position for what's to come. It was a TT difficult to manage, demanding and with really hot conditions."

Photo: Movistar Team

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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ADRIANO MALORI

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ALEXIS VUILLERMOZ

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FRANCISCO VENTOSO

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JEAN-CHRISTOPHE PÉRAUD

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MACIEJ BODNAR

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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QUICK-STEP FLOORS

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RAFAL MAJKA

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TOUR DE SAN LUIS

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VALERIO AGNOLI

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VINCENZO NIBALI

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19.01.2016 @ 14:40 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Etixx-QuickStep confirmed their status as one of the best team time trial teams in the world when they took a clear victory in the opening stage of the Tour de San Luis. The Belgians were 8 seconds faster than Nairo Quintana’s Movistar team in second, with Astana 9 seconds further adrift in third. Local rider Maximilano Richeze was first across the line and takes the first leader’s jersey.

 
We have gathered some reactions.
 

Richeze: My job is to work for Gaviria

It was a perfect day for Etixx-QuickStep who won stage 1 of the race and helped Maximiliano Richeze to don the leader's jersey in his home race.

 

Etixx – Quick-Step’s first UCI event of the season – the Tour de San Luis – brought the squad its first victory of the year, thanks to a solid performance in the team time trial which took place outside the Argentinian town of El Durazno, on a 21-km long course. Rodrigo Contreras, Fernando Gaviria, Maximiliano Richeze, Fabio Sabatini, Stijn Vandenbergh and Lukasz Wisniowski rode full gas right from the start, set the best time at the intermediate point (10.4 km) and continued in the same manner until the finish, where they recorded a time of 23:53.

 

The only team to go below 24 minutes, Etixx – Quick-Step was 8 seconds faster than Movistar, who was runner-up, while Astana finished third, 17 seconds adrift. With the victory came also the first leader’s jersey of the event for Maximiliano Richeze, the Argentinian rider nicknamed “El Atomico”, who has joined Etixx – Quick-Step in the off season. Also Colombia’s Rodrigo Contreras – who raced his first event as pro – got to wear a jersey, for leading the U23 classification.

 

At the end of the day, sport director Davide Bramati was one happy man: “We are really content. Yesterday we did a recon of the course and we saw it could suit us. The second part was more difficult, but the guys did a great job. They were all very motivated to show themselves and to get a good result in the first race of the year. We decided together that we’ll let Max cross the line first, because he’s Argentinian, and this gave them an extra motivation. We came here to win a stage and we did it. Now let’s see what tomorrow’s stage, which is suited to the sprinters, will bring and if we can score another good result with Fernando.”

 

Starting his 10th pro season, Maximiliano Richeze blasted across the finish line first and climbed on the podium not only together with the team, but also to receive the green jersey, for the leader of the overall standings, eight years after winning a stage here:

 

”I am very happy and I would like to thank my teammates for making me such a beautiful gift,” he said. “This jersey comes as a reward for the work I have done. My last victory came more than three years ago, so that’s what makes this moment even more important. On top of that, my brother Mauro is here, riding with the San Luis team, so it’s a double joy. I want to enjoy every second of this race, to take it day by day, but I also remain realistic and will continue working for the team from tomorrow on in order to land other strong results.

 

“I have to say thank you to them for letting me cross the line first so that I can wear the leader’s jersey in my own country. I’m really happy to take this victory. I have been training really hard and this is my first race for the team here but I think that I am going well.

 

“Today we showed that we are in really good condition. It was a really difficult stage, it was very complicated especially for the European teams as it is the first race of the season, so it is always difficult doing a team time trial. It was also really hot but in the end we were able to do it and to take this victory.

 

“It is really nice to be racing in my own country. It has been many years since I’ve won here because I’ve always been in a team that has had other leaders. It’s nice to come back and to be wearing the leader’s jersey this time.

 

“Our roles are really clear and I am here to help Fernando. Today was just a gift that the team gave me by letting me cross the finish line first because this is my country, but my role is to work for Fernando and to help the team. I am in really good form and tomorrow I will help Fernando.”

 

Quintana: We are in a good position

The start of the 10th Tour de San Luis saw the Movistar Team take their collective strength to excellent limits and coming close to their maiden 2016 win against stronger rivals. The squad directed by José Luis Jaimerena finished in 2nd place after the 21km team time trial in and around El Durazno, leaving Nairo Quintana in an excellent position to fight for overall glory in a race where the mountains will take over on Wednesday.

 

Very cohesive despite physiological differences between their six members, the Blues - Nairo, Dani Moreno, Adriano Malori, Dayer Quintana, Marc Soler and Fran Ventoso, the latter dropped before the finish - kept the gaps small against big favourites Etixx. The Belgian squad dominated the intermediate standings, putting 7" into the Movistar Team after 10km, and put  local rider Max Richeze in the lead with eight seconds over the 'green M' (23'53", to 24'01"), which left Astana behind by 9”, Tinkoff at 15” and AG2R / Delko almost 50” behind.

 

The Tour de San Luis will tackle its longest stage on Tuesday - 182km between the region's capital and Villa Mercedes -, a sprint surely to loom under hot conditions in Argentina. Hard slopes will have to wait an additional 24 hours, with the Mirador del Potrero 11km away from La Punta's finish on day three.

 

“It was a good start. We couldn't win, yet it was a fine result that we're satisfied with,” Quintana said. “Now we've made sure that our work during the winter paid off - we're in a good position for what's to come. It was a TT difficult to manage, demanding and with really hot conditions; we'll surely suffer because of the weather during the week, and even more as the mountains come.

 

"We put some gap on our rivals, and that will keep us calm for the upcoming stages. I even hoped for the victory - I wouldn't have mind to work to keep the jersey if it came -, but Etixx had better rouleurs, while we were lucky to have Malori by our side with his great TT conditions. It's good to be in such position; El Amago and Filo Sierras will be stages better suited to me."

 

"We finished really close to Etixx and that's not a bad result at all,” Malori said. “Last year it was me who finished ahead of Kwiatkowski and this time it was their turn to take the win - that's cycling. I'm personally satisfied with this result; a good start for myself, for Nairo and the whole team. We're in a great position overall and we'll fight to keep it the whole week."

 

"A nice way to get the legs rolling for a first day of racing,” Ventoso said. “Adriano was really strong today, like a motorbike, just as usual. Halfway through one of the climbs on the course, when he was pushing on full steam, Nairo took over with a strong pace - he apparently was doing well, too. Then I saw it was too much for me - I had really given all I had and it was enough for me to reach the finish. We raced well together and it's awful to have lost it by those eight seconds, yet it's a good start. Good things should come during this week."

 

Nibali: I had a good feeling

"lt’s an important result that comes at the beginning of the season. It means that we are doing a good job,” Astana sports director Alexandr Shefer said after stage one Tour de San Luis. The team finished in third place the time trial that opened the stage race in Argentina with a gap of only 17 seconds from the stage winner Etixx-Quick Step of Belgium.

 

"We started very strong,” said Valerio Agnoli,” so much that at the intermediate after 11 km we were only 1 second behind the Belgian team. Unfortunately, in the second part we lost a few seconds more but at this point of the preparation it’s quite normal.”

 

"For the first time trial of the year I would say that we did a good race,” Nibali told Tuttobiciweb. “We lost a rider in the final, but otherwise we can be satisfied. Personally I had a good feeling because it was a difficult time trial, with long straights: this means that I worked well.”

 

Max Richeze of Argentina is the first race leader with Vincenzo Nibali in eleventh place in the overall standings ahead of  his teammates Valerio Agnoli and Michele Scarponi.

 

Majka: We have plenty of time to achieve our goals

Tinkoff claimed fourth place in the 21km time-trial from Durazno and back and was within striking distance from the podium on the first stage of Tour de San Luis. The squad, led by Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka, crossed the finish line with a time of 24:16, trailing winners Etixx-Quickstep by 23 seconds.

 

After the first race of the year for Tinkoff's six riders in Argentina, Patxi Vila, Tinkoff sport director, commented on the team's performance: "This was the first race of the year, and it's always hard to decipher. Nevertheless, given the team's mixed composition, with some riders who are better suited to this kind of trial than others, we didn't do too bad."

 

"We finished within a short distance both from Astana and Movistar, two of our main rivals, while the Etixx-Quick-Step team did a great trial and they won with merit. We raced at our own level and the guys were good. Considering this was the first test of the year it was fine", concluded Vila.

 

The first Tinkoff rider to cross the finish line was Maciej Bodnar, followed by Peter Sagan, Jesper Hansen, Pawel Poljanski, and Rafal Majka.

 

"This TTT was tough, fast and with a particular heat wave that hit almost 40 degrees," said Bodnar. "The race today was hard for a team basically made up of long distance riders and climbers but, on the whole, our fourth place shows the team is well trained, we just lack a bit of pace. In the next stages we can only get better."

 

Rafal Majka commented on the team's performance at the end of the trial: "It went well, considering it was the first race. The season is still long and we have plenty of time to achieve our goals. Anyway, I think the fourth place in this team time trial is a good result considering there are so many strong and challenging top teams in this competition".

 

On Tuesday, Tinkoff's six-strong squad is set to tackle the longest stage of Tour San Luis which will take the peloton from the provincial capital of San Luis to Villa Mercedes. The stage's 182km will be covered again under hot summer conditions and will provide the first opportunity for sprinters.

 

Time bonuses will also come to play as three, two and one second will be on offer at the two intermediate sprints and ten, six and four seconds will be awarded at the finish line.

 

Great start for Unitedhealthcare

The men of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team opened their 2016 racing season with a show of force at the Tour de San Luis Team Time Trial, finishing in 5th place on the day against some of the World's strongest teams, all eager for early season success. The riders came into the race with strong morale and momentum after the women of the program claimed two stage victories (Stage 1; Rivera, Stage 5; Hall), and the the overall classification (Hall) in the women's edition just days before. 

 

The men's squad was scheduled early in the day and set a blistering pace across the flat 21-km Team Time Trial course. The 24:47 benchmark lasted through most of the day, only to be surpassed by four WorldTour teams. The 5th place on stage 1 sets the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team in good stead with six stages remaining. The Team Time Trial discipline is considered a true test of an entire program's strength and cohesiveness, as many factors must come together in order to yield a positive result. The race was the first opportunity for the team to contest a team time trial with new additions to the roster, making the result promising for the season ahead.

 

The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team finished the stage as the fastest Pro Continental squad in the event. Rachel Heal, Sporting Director, was elated with the impressive showing from the men's squad, "Today was a fantastic start to the race for the team, to come 5th in the Team Time Trial exceeded our expectations and is a testament to the commitment and motivation of the whole team. Every rider gave it their all, and can be proud of today's ride."

 

Matthew Busche led the team through the halfway point of the course, showing his fitness and preparation for the 2016 season. Stage 2, the first road stage of 2016, will be Busche's debut race in the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Stars and Stripes jersey. Colombian sprinter Carlos Alzate anchored the team through the final kilometers across the finish line. The team races nearly 182 kilometers on Tuesday's stage 2, from San Luis to Villa Mercedes. 

 

Ag2r: Peraud was strong

Ag2r had to settle for sixth.

 

"Good teamwork,” sports director Didier Jannel said. “Alexis Vuillermoz suffered in the heat but he finished with the group. We had a very good Peraud on this first day.”

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