“Sh*t happens! There are twenty stages left,” said Team Sky’s Directeur Sportif Marcus Ljungvist after their 20th placing in the 2011 Vuelta a Espana opening stage team time trial.



Sky were beset by communication and organisation problems over the stage on a course that many riders felt was fundamentally ill-suited to a team time trial.



“The uphills and the downhills and the corners,” was what Thomas Löfkvist said to Cycling Weekly when asked where it went wrong. “A lot went wrong. There was big disorganisation. There were misunderstandings.”



“It didn’t go as well as expected,” said Dario Cioni. “It’s not so easy on these courses. It’s hard to find a balance for the team. The course could have been better.”



Course chaos

The course played a part in Sky’s disappointing result, and a number of riders across a variety of teams expressed dissatisfaction with its design.



Most contentious was a series of tight 90 and near-180 degree turns on normally-pedestrianised streets in the town centre of Benidorm, which caused problems for the teams usually dominant in such events – Sky, Garmin-Cervélo and HTC-Highroad.



With an early crash taking out Kurt-Asle Arvesen and splitting the team, the complex cornering and loud crowds served to exacerbate the riders’ confusion about the situation, team Director Sportif Steven de Jongh later said on the Team Sky website.



The pedestrianised streets have been closed to riders all week and were only opened at three o’clock today. The teams grabbed practice slots before the start at five o’clock but, with almost all of them on the course at the same time, preparations were less than perfect.



“The course was shut until three o’clock and then every team wanted to get on it. You didn’t have time to do a proper dress rehearsal. It makes it a lot harder,” said Ian Stannard (Team Sky)



“It’s just such a hard course to be so organised on – it’s not like a four-corner course,” he continued. “There are so many corners and such tight ones. There were quite a few potholes, speedhumps, bumpy corners. It’s more of an individual time trial course than a team one.”



The leader’s jersey holder after the stage Jakob Fuglslang (Leopard-Trek) described the twistier part of the circuit as “unnecessary”, with Michele Albasini (HTC-Highroad) also expressing the same sentiment. 



Bert Grabsch (HTC-Highroad) also expressed reservations about the course at the team presentation on Friday.



Cioni recovery plus for Sky

Wiggins had earlier expressed worries that Sky would be effectively a man down for the stage – Dario Cioni was suffering from stomach problems yesterday, but Cioni stayed with the team for the stage and is optimistic about the outlook – “I’ve got passed the worst bit and hopefully I can get better and better now. I survived today so that’s one day done.”



Garmin-Cervelo, Vuelta a Espana 2011, stage one TTT

Garmin-Cervelo, winners of the 2011 Tour de France TTT stage, tackle the course on their way to a ninth-placed finish



Related links

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Latest news

Team Sky’s TTT horror on troublesome course

Dan Martin confident and collected as Vuelta team leader

Pro predictions: Who will win the Vuelta?

HTC-Highroad’s reservations about TTT course

Vuelta team time trial start order

Sky plans early start for Vuelta team time trial recon

Wiggins looking to minimise losses in testing Vuelta TTT

Riders voice support for Hushovd over Vuelta exclusion

Cancellara late to Vuelta after being hospitalised by bee sting

Nibali back for victory again in 2011 Vuelta

Wiggins: “I’m in a great position going into the Vuelta”

Wiggins confirmed as Sky leader for the Vuelta

Freire: It’ll be tough in the Vuelta with Cavendish

Hushovd left out of Vuelta; Dan Martin to lead Garmin-Cervelo

Cavendish and Wiggins on provisional Vuelta start list

Climbers set to dominate in 2011 Vuelta

Millar on 2011 Vuelta: ‘Modern-looking and very challenging”

2011 Vuelta set to return to Angliru and Basque country

Angliru back in 2011 Tour of Spain

Hushovd left out of Vuelta; Martin to lead Garmin-Cervélo

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Teams, riders, start list

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Who’s riding?

Vuelta a Espana 2011 team list

Vuelta a Espana 2011
: Stage reports



Stage one: Leopard-Trek win opening TTT to put Fuglsang in front

Vuelta a Espana 2011: Photo galleries

By Graham Watson

Stage one photo gallery

Vuelta a Espana 2011: TV guide



Vuelta a Espana 2011: ITV4 TV schedule



Vuelta a Espana 2011: British Eurosport TV schedule



ITV to show 2011 Vuelta

  • Ken Evans

    Having a short TTT so early is a wasted opportunity,
    it would have been better to have had a longer TTT,
    a week later in the race,
    it would have had a bigger effect on the GC.

    An ordinary ITT prologue would have been better.

    Having crashes on day 1, of a 3 week race is rather pointless.

  • oz

    WINNERS had no trouble !!

  • Monty Stubble

    Whether it was an ill thought-out course or not, all the teams competed under the same conditions. Team Sky looked like a bunch of club amateurs.

  • david Evans

    Excuses. Yes it was a tricky and technical course, but given we hear over and over how Sky are so on top of things, these are just excuses for a bad performance, bad planning and bad communication.

  • Jim Janke

    Blame the course, the organizers, or the crowd noise.
    They could just admit that they had a bad day, hope to do better tomorrow and figure out what they need to do to be more effective as a team.

  • Hector Morales

    Blame the tools, parcours, bad preparation, ill-timing – bottom line is the Leopards ate you up and spat you out. Better prepared, more motivated, more “professional”…take it on the chin like men, outclassed today…………..but tomorrow is another day, so come on guys, lets deliver

  • arronski

    Not the best start, wiggo can still win, off the GC radar now !