Thanks for joining us today. Be sure to return on Monday for the race's first taste of the mountains: there are four climbs on the agenda, including a punchy Cat.1 summit finish.
Pamplona - Viana
Vuelta a España - 19 August 2012
Vuelta a España – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 12:08 on 19 August 2012. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
Get all the latest on Cycling: the big races, schedules and results.
No change on the GC, with Castroviejo leading four Movistar team-mates at the top of the standings and a cluster of riders lurking within 10 seconds of the summit.
John Degenkolb takes the win for Argos Shimano! The German youngster pips Australian Allan Davis, with Team Sky's Ben Swift settling for third. Liquigas's Elia Viviani was fourth.
Swift, Degenkolb and Davis are going head to head...
RadioShack are there too for their man Bennati...
Under the 1km-to-go banner and it's still GreenEdge on the front, with Argos and FDJ there too.
This is a long and slightly uphill, straight final drag into Viana.
Lagutin has been caught as Orica-GreenEdge continue the pace setting.
GreenEdge now take up the slack through Daniel Teklehaimanot, the Eritrean champion.
The Uzbek national champion, Lagutin, has 12 seconds on the pack.
ATTACK: Sergey Lagutin of Vacansoleil-DCM opens up a gap after taking the peloton by surprise on a slight rise.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step are on the front now. There are quite a few roundabouts in the lead into the finish.
Saxo Tinkoff and Rabobank are picking up the pace as the peloton starts to string out.
The peloton pass under the 10km-to-go banner. We're all set for a bumper bunch sprint. There's a lot at stake: with the time bonuses available, we could see a new red jersey tonight.
Ignatiev and Aramendia sit up, shake hands and get reabsorbed by the peloton. The sprinters' teams have come to the front and are driving the pace.
The leading duo have just 25 seconds now, with the peloton now being led by Team Sky. They want a win for their man Ben Swift.
It was Ignatiev who took the six second bonus and four green jersey points at the intermediate sprint in first place. Not that it means much: he is more than two minutes down on GC and his eight points in the green jersey competition will be beaten by whoever wins the stage today.
In fact, Saxo Bank's Alberto Contador did managed to pip the rest of the peloton to take a two-second bonus for third place over the intermediate sprint just then. That seemed to be the cause of mirth for Castroviejo.
The two leaders are about the cross the finish line - but it's not over yet: the race now takes the riders on a 18km loop before the proper finish. The gap back to the bunch is 39 seconds. Chacon has been caught by the pack and red jersey Jonathan Castroviejo seems to be enjoying himself judging by the smile on his face.
The two leaders have 20 seconds on lone rider Chacon and another 30 seconds on the peloton as they approach the second intermediate sprint. The clouds are still very grey - as grey as the tarmac.
The rain's over but the skies are ominously grey. We now have just two leaders after Javier Chacon of Andalucia is dropped by Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural) and Miguel Ignatiev (Katusha). The roads are pretty undulating here so it's no easy run into the finish.
The riders have entered the rain now as they approach the final section of this opening road stage. The pace is quite quick now as the gap comes down to 1:50.
The lead of the three-man break has crept back up to 2:45 as Pablo Lastras, the Spanish veteran, leads the peloton for Movistar.
Unlike the Tour de France, there are two intermediate sprints per stage on the Vuelta - both of which have 6-4-2 seconds bonus available for the first three riders. The second one is coming up in about 20km, by which time you'd expect the escapees to be swept up. Although they have extended their lead once again to 2:20.
The lead is tumbling down now: just two minutes as the trio pass under the 50km-to-go banner.
Movistar start to crank it up on the front of the pack as the lead drops to 2:30.
The lead is 3:15 for the three escapees, who will surely not stay out until the end.
It's starting to rain at the finish in Viana. The average speed for the third hour is down again: 37.7km/h.
Meanwhile, back in the peloton, defending champion Juan Jose Cobo and his Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde spray each other with water from their bidons. The gap is 3:30.
The leaders seem to be suffering a bit in the fierce heat. Their lead drops to just over three minutes now.
The three leaders - Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) and Javier Chacon (Andalucia) - have a 3:37 gap on the bunch now. Chacon will wear the polka dot jersey tomorrow - he is also the virtual red jersey on the road: he trains race leader Janathan Castroviejo by 1:01 on GC.
Ignatiev needs two bike changes in quick succession after some mechanical problems.
An outside bet for today's win is FDJ-BigMat's Nacer Bouhanni. "I have no fear at all. I've come to La Vuelta to win at least one stage. Today I have a good card to play, but I can't make any mistakes. I have a great team," he said this morning at the start in Pamplona.
The leaders pass through the feeding zone.
The lead drops to 3:45 after the second hour of racing. Average speed is 38.3km/h.
CORRECTION: Race commissaires have relegated Javier Aramendia to second place on that climb after an infringement. That means his compatriot Javier Chacon (Andalucia) will wear the polka dot jersey tomorrow.
Ignatiev picks up a puncture and needs a wheel change. The Russian manages to return to his fellow escapees without too much ado.
ALTO DE LA CHAPELA: 1. Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural), 2. Javier Chacon (Andalucia), 3. Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha). So Aramendia, the youngest of the three leaders, takes maximum points over the summit to become the race's first king of the mountains jersey.
Other sprinters to consider for the final bunch sprint, should it come to that, are: Italian Elia Viviani (Liquigas), New Zealander Julian Dean and Australian Allan Davis (both GreenEdge). Spaniard Jose Joaquim Rodriguez (Movistar), Dane Matti Breschel (Rabobank), Colombian Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) and Spaniard Angel Vicioso (Katusha) could all be there too.
The escapees are onto the first and only climb of the day, the Cat.3 Alto de la Chapela. Whoever passes over in pole position will be wearing the race's first blue polka dot jersey tonight.
The three leaders now have a gap of five minutes over the peloton.
The two big favourites for today's stage are Team Sky's Ben Swift and Argos Shimano's John Degenkolb. The youngsters will face stiff opposition, perhaps, from the experienced Italian Daniele Bennati (RadioShack).
INTERMEDIATE SPRINT: 1. Ignatiev, 2. Chacon, 3. Aramendia. Those six seconds would have seen the Russian rise into the top ten: Katusha were 15 seconds down on Movistar in the opening team time trial yesterday, but Ignatiev was dropped by his team and crossed the line more than two minutes down.
VUELTA FACTS: The oldest rider in the race is 38-year-old Italian Matteo Tosatto (Saxo Bank) and the youngest is 21-year-old Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano).
The lead of the three escapees is up to 4:28. The Movistar team of red jersey Jonathan Castroviejo still set the pace on the front of the pack.
It's getting very windy out there with a dangerous crosswind blowing in from the right and causing the peloton to string out. Who's your tip for today? Have your say below in the comment box...
The temperature is up to 39 degrees Celsius now as the riders pass though the town of Tafalla, the birthplace of former Movistar rider Garcia Acosta. The lead is just below four minutes. The average speed for the first hour of racing today was 39.1km/h.
The final rider in this group is Spaniard Javier Aramendia, who joined local minnows Caja Rural this season after four years at Euskaltel. The 25-year-old has no major UCI wins to his name, although in 2006 he won a stage in the little known Bizkaiko Bira amateur race. This is Aramendia's first Vuelta, although he raced in the 2011 Giro d'Italia, finishing 115th.
Andalucia's Javier Chacon is also 27 years old and makes his Grand Tour debut in his first year at the Spanish Pro Continental team. His two previous career stage wins came in the Vuelta a Venezuela (2010) and the Tour of Azerbaijan (2012).
Mikhail Ignatiev is the best known of this attacking trio. The Russian 27-year-old is a track specialist who joined Katusha in 2009. Ignatiev has a gold medal from the 2004 Olympics when he won the points race at Athens. He has yet to win a stage on a Grand Tour, but twice came close in the 2009 Tour, finishing stages in second and third place.
The trio's lead is up to four minutes on another hot day in northern Spain. Movistar control the pace in the peloton.
TIME BONUSES: Remember that in the Vuelta each intermediate sprint brings time bonuses of 6-4-2 seconds for the first three riders, while the finish line offers 12-8-4 seconds for the first three. This does certainly shake things up - and means the red jersey is, in theory, a possibility for a cluster of riders today.
Now that the dangerman Terpstra is no longer in the leading group, the gap has ballooned to a large 3:15. Reminder of the three escapees: Javier Francisco Aramendia (Caja Rural), Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha) and Javier Chacon (Andalucia).
Four become three: Niki Terpstra of Omega Pharma-QuickStep has been dropped by the leading group. The trio have 54 seconds on the peloton.
The lead is up to one minute for the four escapees as the Movistar team of race leader Jonathan Castroviejo and defending champion Juan Jose Cobo come to the front of the peloton to control the pace.
An early break of 14 riders had tried their luck, led by Smukulis, before this break of four materialised. The current lead is 35 seconds for the escapees. Katusha particulaly active today - perhaps trying to make up for their dour Tour de France, when they were the only team not to achieve a top five position in any stage.
BREAK: Four riders are out ahead of the peloton - Niki Terpstra (Quick Step), Javier Aramendia Lorente (Caja Rural), Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha) and Jaboer Chacon (Andalucia). They have about 10 seconds over the peloton.
Katusha have moved to the front of the peloton, with Gatis Smukulis taking up a position at the head. Their main man for GC is Joaquim Rodriguez, with Russian Denis Menchov his right hand man.
The Pro Continental Andalucia team in blue are setting the early pace.
Finally, after a long neutral zone, the remaining 197 riders get this opening road stage of the 67th edition of the Vuelta a Espana under way!
In a mountains-heavy route, today's stage is a rare opportunity for the sprinters. In fact, with the hills starting as early as tomorrow, it will be a huge psychological boost for whichever fast man can take the win in Viana. The bookmakers have Team Sky's Ben Swift down as favourite...
It's a long 13km neutral zone so it will be a little while before things get going properly in northern Spain. It's a hot day in Pamplona: temperatures in the mid 30s but there could be a humidity shower on the cards at some point today.
The riders are currently coasting through the neutral zone. Today's stage is pretty flat, although there is one Cat.3 climb on the agenda so we will see a rider in blue polka dots tonight.
The opening TTT was not without drama, however: four Garmin-Sharp riders crashed out on the highly technical course, while Astana pair Enrico Gasparotto and Paolo Tiralongo also hit the deck. Gasparotto, winner of the Amstel Gold earlier this season, broke his collarbone in three places and has been forced to retire from the race.
Yesterday, Spain's Jonathan Castroviejo took the Vuelta's first red jersey after his Movistar team won the opening team time trial in Pamplona. Last down the start ramp in Pamplona's historic Plaza del Castillo square, the Movistar team of defending champion Juan Jose Cobo completed the technical 16.5km course in a blistering time of 18 minutes and 51 seconds amid hefty cheers from the jubilant home crowd.
Welcome to live coverage of the opening road stage of the Vuelta a Espana, the 181.5 largely flat stage two from Pamplona to Viana.