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22 Sep 2019 7:38
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  •   Home > News > International

    La Vuelta a Espana opens with chaotic team time trial as leaky paddling pool causes carnage

    The Vuelta a Espana started in chaotic fashion, with a car crashing before the stage and riders left sprawled across the road after a leaky paddling pool turned a dry road into a treacherous corner.

    There was carnage during the opening stage of the Vuelta a Espana, with a leaking paddling pool to blame as two teams crashed in spectacular fashion during the 13.4-kilometre course around the south-eastern Spanish city of Torreviaja on the Costa Blanca.

    Things got off to an inauspicious start before the riders even took to the course, as the team car for Spanish squad Euskadi-Murias smashed into barriers at high speed during the reconnaissance.

    The Basque Pro-Continental squad — one of four wildcard entries for the third and final Grand Tour of the season — tweeted that there had been no injuries despite the dramatic incident.

    "Thank you all for the messages of support and concern for today's accident in La Vuelta," the team tweeted in Spanish.

    "Fortunately, there was only shock and material damage."

    However, during the stage, which teams negotiated at an average speed of 54.14 kilometres per hour in perfect conditions, there was more chaos.

    Both UAE Team Emirates and Lotto-Jumbo saw their riders slam into the road during their timed rides as both lost time and skin in the first stage of the three-week race.

    Pre-stage favourites Team Jumbo-Visma lost 40 seconds, with overall contenders Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk caught up in the crash as their teammates skittled into one another at the barriers.

    "We were riding at full speed towards that bend when things went sideways," German rider Tony Martin explained on the Lotto-Jumbo website.

    "There was no way to avoid it. We couldn't react in time, and the guys in the front slipped away on the wet road surface.

    "Luckily everyone was able to continue their ride … for now, this is a blow to our morale."

    Sports directors Addy Engels described the incident as "far from ideal" and that tour organisers said a paddling pool accident was to blame.

    "[The tour organisers] went to the house where the water came from. That is 500 metres from the course, on a steep slope that goes straight onto the roundabout.

    "There was a child playing in a inflatable plastic swimming pool that broke.

    "As a result, according to the organisation, all of that water flooded down onto the road."

    Former champion Fabio Aru was also caught up in the chaos as his UAE-Team Emirates crashed heavily on the same corner, losing more than a minute on general classification.

    The Vuelta a Espania, or Tour of Spain, will take place over three weeks with riders covering 3,272.2km before finishing in Madrid.

    Astana won the first stage, with 25-year-old Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez crossing the line first to earn the leaders' red jersey.

    Seven Australian riders will compete at this years' race: Heinrich Haussler, Michael Docker, Damien Howson, Nick Schultz, Ben O'Connor, Robert Power and Michael Storer.

    No Australian has ever won the Vuelta, with Cadel Evans' third place in 2009 being the best overall finishing position.


    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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