August 22, 2015

MARBELLA, Spain (AP) The BMC team with American rider Tejay Van Garderen won the opening stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Saturday, a team time trial that won't count toward individual times because of safety concerns.

Race organizers responded to complaints about safety from riders by deciding Friday that the 7.4-kilometer (4.6-mile) stage from Puerto Banus to Marbella along Spain's southern coast would only count toward the team classification.

Riders including Tour de France winner Chris Froome and Tour runner-up Nairo Quintana had criticized the route for narrow stretches that went over sandy dirt, saying rider safety was not guaranteed.

BMC, the reigning team time trial world champion, won the stage in 8 minutes, 10 seconds. BMC also won the team time trial at this summer's Tour.

''The decision to make the stage only count for the team classification was for the best,'' said BMC's Samuel Sanchez, the 2008 Olympic road race gold medalist. ''The route was very pretty but it was better not to take risks.''

Despite the safety concerns, the stage that started from a pier by the sea and went along the beach front ended without incident.

Tinkoff-Saxo and Orica Greenedge were both one second behind BMC.

Slovenian Peter Velits, the first BMC rider to cross the line, will wear the red leader's jersey Sunday, although all riders will start from zero on the clock.

That second stage will take riders over 158.7 kilometers (98.6 miles) from Alhaurin de la Torre to a summit finish at Caminito del Rey.

The three-week Grand Tour finishes in Madrid on Sept. 13.

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