MADRID, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Giro de Italia winner, Vicenzo Nibali is the big winner, if not the first leader of the Vuelta de Espana (Tour of Spain) cycle race after his Astana team won the team time trial on the opening day of the three week long race.
The Italian rider' s Astana team completed the 27 kilometers between Vilanova de Arousa and Sanxenxo in the north-west Spanish region of Galicia in 29 minutes and 50 seconds, 10 seconds ahead of the Radio shack team.
Sky pro-cycling, which is without the last two Tour de France winners, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, were third 22 seconds behind, while Movistar team was 29 seconds off the pace in fourth.
That is probably the most significant result given that Movistar team leader, Alejandro Valverde is one of the main favorites for the race and although a 29-second deficit against Nibali is not insurmountable in the remaining 20 stages, 29 seconds is a good starting lead for such an excellent climber as Nibali on a very mountainous race.
Meanwhile there was disappointment for Joaquin Rodriguez, who finished third in last year' s Vuelta and this year' s Tour. His Katusha team struggled to remain organized in the stage and lost 59 seconds in what is a surprisingly technical discipline. Rodriguez is perhaps the best climber in this year' s Vuelta, but has constantly lost time in time trails and 59 seconds is a big handicap to take into the rest of the race.
Meanwhile the first leader' s red jersey goes to Nibali' s team-mate Jani Brajkovic, who can be expected to defend it on Sunday' s stage, which takes the Vuelta 176 kilometers between Pontevedra and the Alto Do Monte da Groba.
The stage ends with a stiff first category climb of almost 600 meters in 11 kilometers, which will favor riders such as Rodriguez, while Nibali will not be expected to lose any time.