Australian criterium champion Kaden Groves was narrowly denied his second stage win of the Tour of Slovakia in a photo finish to stage three.
The 22-year-old’s late charge looked to have handed him the victory in a chaotic sprint finale, but it was Kristoffer Halvorsen who was declared the winner in Považská Bystrica.
Team BikeExchange moved to the head of the peloton with Chris Juul-Jensen and Sam Bewley as soon as the remains of the breakaway were reeled in with 20km remaining. Michael Hepburn and Alexander Konychev then guided Groves into the final kilometre before swinging off ahead of the sprint.
The day one prologue winner appeared to be boxed in, but after battling for position the road opened up ahead of him with the line fast approaching. Groves burst through the middle of the pack and threw his bike at the line, but it wasn’t quite enough to pip Halvorsen and take another stage win.
“The guys were awesome today, we backed up really well after yesterday’s disappointment when I crashed with 15km to go. We took control and everyone did a great job of delivering me.
I got squeezed with about 200 metres to go which cost me a few metres, but thankfully I had good legs and could close the gap to the guys in front. The legs are good, and I showed my speed today.
There are lots of positives to take away and it was an awesome, all round team performance despite the result. Tomorrow is another opportunity, on paper another sprint, so all in for that.”
Gene Bates (Sports Director):
“It’s a bit bittersweet today, we were very close to the win, it was all on the last throw. But regardless of the outcome we’re pleased with Kaden in the sprint, particularly with the bad luck we had yesterday with losing both Kaden and Konychev in separate falls.
It was great that the guys bounced back, they rallied well and by all accounts it was a great team effort today to put Kaden up there and give him the best opportunity in the sprint.
We have one more chance tomorrow and hopefully we can come out on the better side with first place, but hats off to Halvorsen today.”
2021 Tour of Slovakia Stage 3 – Results:
1. Kristoffer Halvorsen 4:28:47
2. Kaden Groves (Team BikeExchange) ST
3. Peter Sagan ST
Photo Courtesy of Jan Melicher.