MADRID, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Rohan Dennis of the BMC Racing Team won the first stage of the Vuelta de Espana (Tour of Spain) cycle race on Saturday.
The stage started after a minute's silence in memory of Javier Ochoa, the winner of a mountain stage in the 2000 Tour de France, who died after a long illness on Friday aged just 43.
Ochoa was badly injured after he and his brother were hit by a car while training in 2001 and although he went on to win Paralympic gold and silver medals in 2004 and 2008, he never fully recovered from the cerebral paralysis suffered in the accident.
Dennis completed the flat 8 kilometer time trial around the port of Malaga (southern Spain) in a time of 9 minutes and 39 seconds to claim the first leader's red jersey of the race.
The Australian finished six seconds ahead of Sky's Michael Kwiatkovski and seven ahead of Victor Campernaerts of Lotto Soudal.
Race favorite Richie Porte (BMC), who had been suffering from a stomach bug in the days before the race, lost 54 seconds to the leader, while among the other favorites, Sean Yates finished 29 seconds behind Dennis, Nairo Quintana 30 seconds and Vincenzo Nibali ceded 40 seconds.
Sunday's second stage of the Vuelta is a relatively flat 163.5 kilometers between Marbella and Camino del Rey, with just three third category climbs meaning it should finish in a bunch sprint, with temperatures forecast to be above 35 degrees centigrade the main problem for most riders.
The 21-stage Vuelta is one of the three so-called 'Grand Tours' along with the Tour de France and the Giro de Italia and it finishes in the Spanish capital of Madrid on September 16th.