73rd Vuelta a España kicks off from sunny Malaga
Laurens De Plus finishes as the highest-ranked Quick-Step Floors rider.
For the first time since 2009, the Vuelta a España got underway with an individual time trial hosted by Malaga, the main economic center of southern Spain and home, among others, of the Picasso Museum, Castillo Gibralfaro and Alcazaba citadel, the latter built by the Hammudid dynasty in the early 11th century when Andalusia, together with most of the country, was ruled by the Moorish.
The 8km-long stage, which had the role of establishing an initial pecking order, took the riders from the Center Pompidou, the first of its kind located outside of France, then on a stretch close to the famous Malagueta beach, before entering on the beautiful Paseo del Parque, from where they went onto Calle Larios, Malaga's emblematic boulevard built at the end of the 19th century, which serves as the city's main commercial street.
World Tour team classification leader Quick-Step Floors came to the start with a strong eight-man roster, from which Laurens De Plus was the most prominent on the opening day; a top 10 finishes at the Tour of California this season, the 22-year-old Belgian – one of the youngest riders in the race – put in a solid effort and concluded as the team's best placed rider, after stopping the clock in 10:08 at the end of the stage won by Rohan Dennis (BMC), who claimed the race's first red jersey.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images