Groves wins final stage in Fuzhou to wrap up 2018 season on a highSun 18 Nov 2018
In form Australian sprinter Kaden Groves closed out the season in style with victory on the fifth and final stage at the Tour of Fuzhou today as Mitchelton-BikeExchange played it perfectly to set the 19-year-old up for the win.
The route of today’s closing stage was the same as in recent years with six laps of a fast, downtown circuit in Yong Tai and a tightly marked affair unfolded.
Plenty of attacks shot off the front over the opening two laps, but never gained more than 200metres until the third time around when a group of nine riders managed to break free.
Holding just over one minute over the bunch at the halfway point, the nine included Zhi Hui Jiang for Mitchelton-BikeExchange and worked well together, stretching their lead to two minutes with 45kilometres to go.
After a brief solo effort by Zhi Hui Jiang the group came back together but struggled to inject fresh impetus to counter the intensified chase of the peloton and the race came back together on the final lap with the focus now shifting to Groves and the sprint.
And that focus proved to be sharp and decisive as Groves sealed the victory with an explosive sprint after holding position at the front and managing to avoid the crash that disrupted the field with four kilometres to go.
The Tour began well for the Chinese outfit with Liu Jiankun part of the leading GC group and placing in the top ten on the opening stage, before a chance for the sprinters arrived on stage two with Groves managing to avoid the chaos to finish second, coming super close to his third win of the season.
That win would eventually come on today’s final stage after a challenging couple of GC days that saw Liu Jiankun slip down the rankings to 18thoverall and third in the Greater China classification, but with the team coming together delightfully to finish on a positive note.
“We knew that today would come down to a bunch sprint, so there wouldn’t be a change on the GC and as expected the team’s leading the general classification controlled the stage.”
“The boys did a great job all day keeping me in the best possible position and riding hard in the final 20kilometres. It was a fast, downhill run to the line and I had to go quite early, but I had good enough legs to get past the German lead out train.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more from the team to finish the season this way. It was nice to improve on my second place on stage two and go out with a win.”
Sport director James Victor:
“A stage win was the big goal for us coming into this race and it took until the last day of racing to get there, but we did it. I congratulate all the boys on their perseverance, they all rode well today.”
“Kaden’s confidence is growing all the time, but for me he was the fastest guy in this race. He’s had a great back end to the season with the win last week in Quanzhou Bay and now he’s capped it off in style here.
“Liu got caught in the crash with four kilometres to go and despite riding well over the early stages, he started to suffer from end of season fatigue the last couple of days.
“I am really pleased with how we’ve concluded the year. We won the last European race with Rob Stannard at Piccolo Lombardia and we’ve won the last stage of the last Chinese race today. Fantastic.”
Tour of Fuzhou stage five results:
1. Kaden Groves (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) 02:47:55
2. Zheng Zhang (Hengxiang-Cycling-Team) ST
3. Jasper Frahm (German-National-Team) ST
Final general classification:
1. Ilya Davidenok (Beijing-XDS-Innova) 13:17:56
2. Ben Dyball (St.George-Continental-Team) +0:12
3. Lyu Xianjing (Hengxiang-Cycling-Team) +0:21
18. Liu Jiankun (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) +3:35
Photos courtesy of the Tour of Fuzhou.