August 19, 2017

NIMES, France (AP) Team BMC Racing won the time trial that opened the Spanish Vuelta on Saturday, with Australian rider Rohan Dennis taking the early overall lead.

BMC won the 13.7-kilometer (8.5-mile) stage in the French city of Nimes in 15 minutes, 58 seconds.

Team Quick Step Floors was second with a time six seconds slower, and Team Sunweb finished third.

Dennis led BMC to become the first Australian to wear the leader's red jersey at the Vuelta since Michael Matthews in 2014.

''Everything went to plan today,'' Dennis said.

Race favorite Chris Froome, the Tour de France winner, got off to a good start by avoiding trouble and finishing 18th overall as Team Sky crossed the line in fourth place.

Froome is trying to become the third rider to complete the Tour-Vuelta double in the same season, after Jacques Anquetil (1963) and Bernard Hinault (1978).

The British rider has four Tour de France titles but never won the Vuelta, finishing second three times, including last year.

Nairo Quintana opted not to defend his Vuelta title, while Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde is not competing because of an injury sustained at the Tour de France. Giro d'Italia winner Tom Dumoulin also isn't racing in the Vuelta.

Three-time Vuelta winner Alberto Contador is retiring from cycling after the race, capping a career in which he won seven grand tour titles, including two at the Tour de France. His Trek Segafredo team was 11th, leaving the Spaniard 63rd overall.

Riders will remain in France on Sunday for a 203-kilometer (126-mile) flat stage from Nimes to Gruissan.

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