Australian sprinter Kaden Groves took a bittersweet third place on stage six of the Volta a Catalunya as the breakaway stayed away in Cambrils.
The 23-year-old comfortably took the bunch kick, 48 seconds behind the leading duo, to make it eight top five finishes in 2022, but walks away with a feeling of what could have been after a tough stage.
Rain greeted the peloton at the start of the day, and the race soon burst into life on the opening categorised climb of the day as a selective breakaway group went clear. Behind them the peloton was in pieces, but things eventually came back together with two riders from the original break still ahead.
The pair held an advantage of two minutes as the bunch crested the final climb, and with Groves still in the pack, Team BikeExchange-Jayco went all-in to try and set their sprinter up for another crack at a stage win.
However, with little help from other teams and the general classification contenders on the attack, the chase was too little too late as the two leaders held on. After doggedly battling over the climbs, Groves sprinted across the line in third with a shake off the head and thoughts of what could have been.
Kaden Groves (3rd):
“It was a super messy stage today, the weather made that the case, and the fight for the GC! I can’t thank the guys enough, they did an incredible job keeping me protected and trying to bring the guys back for a sprint finish. They really showed their strength, and I was lucky enough to have some good shape today and make it to the final. It was a real shame to finish third, but we were beaten by two stronger guys today.
If we were to do it again, we wouldn’t change anything from today, and there was nothing more we could’ve done.”
Gene Bates (Sport Director):
“It was a very difficult stage, and we saw that as it unfolded. We probably didn’t envisage it being that hard, but a combination of the weather, where the GC was at, and the parcours really made it a race and a half. It was on from kilometre zero right to the very end.
“Our plan was to try and get one of the guys – predominately Chris – in the move today, if it was going, otherwise the plan was to park Kaden in the group, and see if we could get him through, and both Kaden and the guys did a superb job today.
“I think we’ve seen areas of Kaden this week that we haven’t seen previously, which is really exciting moving forward. You don’t see a sprinter of his calibre get around a course like that easily, and that’s exciting for what we’ve got planned for the rest of the year and the future. But also just the way the guys have ridden as a unit all week has been superb. We saw that in stages one and two in particular, but also throughout this race, so I think we can be really happy already with one day still to go.”
2022 Volta a Catalunya Stage 6 – Results:
1. Richard Carapaz 4:09:19
2. Sergio Higuita ST
3. Kaden Groves (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) +0:48
Photo: Getty Sport