Dubai: UAE Team Emirates kicked-off its Vuelta a Espana campaign on Saturday, when the riders tackled the first of two Individual Time Trials (ITT) that will feature in this year’s race from August 25 to September 16.

The short and flat 8-km course around Malaga in the south of Spain saw riders set off from the Centre Pompidou before finishing on the famous marbled flooring of Calle Larios.

Valerio Conti recorded the fastest time of the team (10:15) ahead of Dan Martin (10:18) and Fabio Aru (10:19). Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing won the stage overall in a time of 9:40.

Aru, who won the Vuelta in 2015, said: “I’m happy the Vuelta has started, it’s exciting to have the kick off here in Malaga. Overall it was a good TT, in line with my expectations. The most important aspect is having had good sensations while racing. It’s the first step of a long and demanding series of tough stages, so let’s face them day by day.”

Martin added: ‘It’s a pure power course. I say I lost some time on the corners, but there isn’t a lot of time to be made, it’s all about pacing. The first 4-km is pure power and favours the bigger guys. I couldn’t care less about the time as I am not here for the general classification. It was just a good test to see how the legs are. I lost the time by not taking any risks, but I felt good.”