© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tour de France

ARRATE, Spain (Reuters) – Defending Vuelta champion Primoz Roglic gained the opening stage of this yr’s delayed version, a 173-km trek from Irun because the race bought off to an explosive begin on Tuesday.

The Slovenian, who misplaced the Tour de France yellow jersey on the final aggressive stage final month, powered away from a small group of high contenders with one km to go within the Alto de Arrate.

“The group confirmed that we’re very, very sturdy. They did an ideal job all through the stage,” mentioned Roglic. “It is good that I can reward them for that with this stage win. On the ultimate climb we went full fuel.”

Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz took second place one second behind as his Ineos-Grenadiers group mate and Britain’s four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome was dropped earlier than the ultimate ascent, a 5.3km effort at a median gradient of seven.7%, identical to France’s Thibaut Pinot.

Pinot ended up 9:56 behind Roglic, with Froome 11:12 off the tempo.

“I bought a however caught out coming into the penultimate climb and began (the final climb) fairly far again, being caught behind a crash there,” mentioned Froome, showing in his first grand tour in two years.

“I am simply going to take the race day-by-day and hold attempting to do as a lot as I can for the group. Sensations are good. I nonetheless miss just a little little bit of that high hand from not having raced a lot… and I hope to maintain increase all through the race.”

Eire’s Dan Martin was third, additionally one second off the tempo after Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma group mate American Sepp Kuss blew the peloton aside within the final climb with a brutal acceleration.

The Vuelta’s flat begin within the Netherlands was scrapped because the race was rescheduled from Aug. 14-Sept. 6 amid the COVID-19 disaster and there was no stand-off in Tuesday’s first stage.

Former Giro champion Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands began as Jumbo-Visma’s co-leader however he was unable to observe when Kuss made his transfer and crossed the road 51 seconds behind Roglic.

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