Groves takes first win on stage 3 at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour

Fri 7 Feb 2020

Neo-pro Kaden Groves took his first UCI win for Mitchelton-SCOTT in a sprint finish on stage three of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour

The team worked hard to soften up the bunch throughout the stage, which featured climbs at the start and end of the 118km journey from Bright to Wangaratta, before the 21-year-old proved too strong for his rivals, saluting in joy.

A hard start:
Heading straight out of Bright and up the Tawonga Gap climb, the pace was on early and it caused a significant split in the bunch over the climb.

Mitchelton-SCOTT tried to get riders in the breakaway but were heavily marked and when the elastic eventually snapped after 50-60km, the two top teams on general classification were without representatives.

Softening it up:
The lead group of six led the race by over three minutes through the feedzone and Mitchelton-SCOTT put riders on the front to assist with the chase.

As the break started to splinter from the heat, the race hit the final climb. 2018 Vuelta a Espana champion Simon Yates took up the charge and forced the pace under the instruction of Groves.

Back together for the final sprint:
Whilst the pressure on the climb was enough to tail off some of the sprinters, most were able to re-join as the final breakaway riders were also swallowed up on the run in to the line. 

Groves, who crested all of the day’s climbs in the front group, was the freshest in the final and showed his form to beat Dainese and Mahkel Raim (Israel Start-Up Nation) in the sprint.

Kaden Groves – Stage 3 Winner:
“It was a pretty hard stage today, it was the stage I picked for the week.  

“I’ve been trying to get the first win with the new team. The guys have been riding so well together that they really deserve this. Today was a perfect team effort so I’m pretty happy to repay them with a win.

“I’m not climbing too bad at the moment so I was pretty happy with the hard pace on the first climb and I made the first selection. After that, Sunweb were really marking us out of the race, not letting us go in the break so we had to chase all day.   

“In the end, after the hard climb before the finish, we managed to drop some of the guys and I had Yatesy and Cam Meyer riding the front. It all came back together but I think I was one of the freshest at the finish.

“It was always our plan to put (Dainese) under pressure. I am good mates with him so I know how he climbs and how he rides, so I knew I would have him on the climbs.

“We knew EF was going to be strong, they have the strongest lead out, but I had Cam and Dion (Smith) holding me on the side of the bunch. Coming into that last corner it was just my job to slot in.  

“I think I came around the corner maybe sixth wheel but with 400m and a lot of wind around today I was pretty confident I could come over the top.” 

Matt Wilson – Sport Director:
“It was always the most interesting stage on paper; the longest stage, some climbs in the final and at the start, the GC close and Sunweb so strong, we knew it was going to be a really tactical stage.

“It took 50-60km for the break to get established, then there was a lot of poker going on so it was a really hard stage for everyone. 

“We ended up committing more guys to the chase than we wanted, we tried to disrupt Dainese at the top but he made it back, but the guys still had enough in the tank to get Kaden to the right spot and it all paid off.

“Kaden is a really hungry and determined rider, he knew he wanted to get a win in Australia before he took off to Europe. He was very disappointed the first stage when he didn’t get it and sprinters win on confidence – when they start winning, they keep winning – so that’s a great way to start the year.”

2020 Jayco Herald Sun Tour – Stage 3 Results:
1. Kaden Groves (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 4:07:27
2. Alberto Dainese (Team Sunweb) ST
3. Mihkel Raim (Israel Start-Up Nation) ST 

2020 Jayco Herald Sun Tour – General Classification after Stage 3:
1. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) 9:50:30
2. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:04
3. Sebastian Berwick (St George) +0:06

Photo courtesy of Con Chronis.