Olympic champion Primoz Roglic won the opening day time trial around the coastal town of Hondarribia in the Tour of the Basque Country on Monday.
Wearing the gold helmet and riding a gold-trimmed bike he is entitled to as Olympic champion, Roglic took just 9min 48sec to complete the hilly 7.5km circuit, with the crowds cheering him up the final stretch on a cobbled hill as the clock ticked down.
Belgian rider Remco Evenepoel of Quick-Step was second at just 5sec and his teammate Remi Cavagna third, another 11sec off the pace.
“It’s always nice to have a lead even if that doesn’t mean much,” said Roglic.
Evenepoel was kicking himself.
“It’s like the Tirreno-Adriatico, it’s sickening to come second on the first day of a World Tour race,” said the 22-year-old.
Ineos pair Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates were also in the mix in fourth and fifth, a couple of seconds further back.
Pre-race overall favourite Roglic now leads Yates by 18sec while the Colombian climber Sergio Higuita is over 35sec adrift.
Tuesday’s second of six stages is a largely flat run from Leitza to Viana, although there are three small climbs to pass.
The main title contenders will then start to jostle on two hilly stages and two mountain ones.
Much of the past two Tours of Spain have been contested in the Basque Country where Roglic also shone.