Madrid - Vincenzo Nibali's Astana team won the team time trial ahead of RadioShack and Omega Pharma-Quickstep as the 2013 Tour of Spain got underway on Saturday.
Nibali, who is looking to add a second Vuelta victory to his Giro d'Italia win earlier this year, was given the perfect start as the Kazakh team came home 10 seconds ahead of RadioShack with pre-stage favourites Omega Pharma back in third a further six seconds behind.
"The team have been fantastic. It was a great time trial," said a delighted Nibali afterwards.
"I'm in very good condition. The Vuelta is a very hard and long race. There are very important stages to come so we have to go day-by-day."
Omega had set the early pace, but with time-trial specialist Tony Martin having to slow down on various occasions for his teammates to catch up they didn't set as quick a time as they would have hoped.
Fabian Cancellara's RadioShack then moved briefly into the lead before Astana, who set off last of the 22 teams, produced an incredible ride in the final third of the 27.4km ride from Vilanova de Arousa into Sanxexo to take the victory.
Team Sky meanwhile couldn't follow up their podium finishes in the team time trial at the Giro and the Tour de France this year as, without Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins, they could only manage fourth, 22 seconds back.
Former winner Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is expected to be one of Nibali's main competitors for the overall race victory, but the Spaniard ended the first day 29 seconds behind the Italian after the Spanish team failed to repeat their victory in this stage on a much hillier course last year.
However, he wasn't too disheartened with the time lost given that teammate Benat Intxausti's stage had been interrupted by a puncture.
"We have set a good time and we are happy," he said.
"We haven't lost much time with respect to the favourites and what we lost was due to a puncture for Intxausti. It was a blow because he was an important man for us in the time trial, but we have coped with it well."
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) who finished third in last year's race and at the Tour de France earlier this year, was also off the pace as his Katusha team came in 59 seconds off the time set by Astana.
Overall leading standings after the 1st stage of the Vuelta a Espana, a 27.4km team time-trial from Vilanova de Arousa to Sanxenxo on Saturday:
1. Janez Brajkovic (SLO/AST) 29min 59sec
2. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) at 0:00.
3. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA/AST) 0:00.
4. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 0:00.
5. Andriy Grivko (UKR/AST) 0:00.
6. Tanel Kangert (EST/AST) 0:00.
7. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/RSH) 0:10.
8. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP/RSH) 0:10.
9. Markel Irizar (ESP/RSH) 0:10.
10. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/RSH) 0:10.
11. Chris Horner (USA/RSH) 0:10.
12. Ben Hermans (BEL/RSH) 0:10.
13. Tony Martin (GER/OPQ) 0:16.
14. Gianni Meersman (BEL/OPQ) 0:16.
15. Zdenek Stybar (CZE/OPQ) 0:16.
16. Pieter Serry (BEL/OPQ) 0:16.
17. Kevin De Weert (BEL/OPQ) 0:16.
18. Luke Rowe (WAL/SKY) 0:22.
19. Xavier Zandio (ESP/SKY) 0:22.
20. Sergio Henao (COL/SKY) 0:22.
21. Dario Cataldo (ITA/SKY) 0:22.
22. Rigoberto Uran (COL/SKY) 0:22.
23. Vasil Kiryienka (BLR/SKY) 0:22.
24. Javier Moreno (ESP/MOV) 0:29.
25. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 0:29.
26. Eros Capecchi (ITA/MOV) 0:29.
27. Jos Herrada (ESP/MOV) 0:29.
28. Sylvester Szmyd (POL/MOV) 0:29.
29. Nicolas Roche (IRL/SAX) 0:32.
30. Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN/SAX) 0:32.
Standings from the 1st stage of Vuelta a Espana, a 27.4km team time-trial ride from Vilanova de Arousa to Sanxenxo on Saturday:
1. Astana 29min 59sec
(average: 54,8 km/h)
2. RadioShack at 0:10.
3. Omega Pharma 0:16.
4. Sky 0:22.
5. Movistar 0:29.
6. Saxo Bank 0:32.
7. NetApp 0:35.
8. BMC 0:36.
9. Orica - GreenEdge 0:45.
10. Belkin 0:49.
11. Lampre 0:56.
12. Katusha 0:59.
13. Lotto 1:14.
14. Euskaltel 1:14.
15. Vacansoleil 1:18.
16. FDJ.fr 1:25.
17. Cannondale 1:26.
18. Caja Rural 1:38.
19. Garmin 1:41.
20. AG2R La Mondiale 1:41.
21. Argos 1:53.
22. Cofidis 1:55.