Credit: Con Chronis / Jayco Herald Sun Tour
Kaden Groves was at his powerful best on the final stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, claiming a comfortable victory on the hard finish around the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens ahead of teammate Dion Smith for a Mitchelton-Scott 1-2.
The Queenslander has looked the fastest rider in the race and also possesses prodigious climbing ability on punchy slopes, so the finish to Stage 5 of the Herald Sun Tour suited Groves down to the ground.
“I think the finish was hard enough for me,” said Groves. “It really suited me and was hard enough to drop some of the fast guys and in the end happy to get the win.”
The final few kilometres involved a number of accelerations for Groves, with his teammates putting him in the boxseat to contest the race from the base of the final climb of Anderson street.
“The boys, we all got together – a bit late actually – with three kilometres to go,” said Groves. “It was pretty messy and in the crosswinds we put it in the gutter at the front of the peloton. Coming into the climb, EF took over and set a really hot pace up to the top.
“Hofland let Scully go off the front, forcing me to chase. I had to close the gap from the kilometre banner to probably 300 metres to go where I had a run at him and took the barrier on the right and led out the sprint.
“The finish was more or less a cross-headwind so me taking the barrier meant that everyone had to come over in the wind, so it would have been hard to come across.”
Groves finished the Herald Sun Tour with a second place and two wins from three bunch sprints.
“The guys are perfect keeping fresh in every stage and delivering me to the finish as smooth as possible for me,” said Groves. “The results are pretty good, I’ve been on the podium for every sprint stage, a successful week for the team.”
After finishing in the front group, Jai Hindley secured the overall win, slightly increasing his lead from 10 to 17 seconds over Sebastian Berwick (St George Continental) after the climber just missed the front split. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-Scott) rounded out the podium.
“I’m pretty ecstatic to get the win today,” said Hindley. “It’s nice to get my name on that honour roll. This race goes back a long time, some great riders have ridden this race. To etch my name onto the trophy it’s unreal.”
“It’s been a pretty big Aussie summer of racing but I’m so happy to finish it off this way and to get the ball rolling before I get back to Europe.”
James Whelan (EF Education First), Ben Hill (Team Bridgelane), Jay Vine (Nero Continental), Brendon Davids (Oliver’s Real Food Racing), Hiroshi Tsubaki (Kinan), Alexander Cataford (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Jesse Ewart (Team Sapura) formed the early move of the day. Michael Freiberg (ARA-Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) bridged his way across a lap later to make it a eight-rider move.
There were a few interesting battles in the move, with Hill in the move for the fifth consecutive day in pursuit of the sprint jersey, with Vine and Ewart sitting on the same time in the general the classification and battling for the fifth spot overall with bonus seconds on the line at the intermediate sprints as well.
Through the first intermediate sprint, Hill essentially secured the sprint jersey by winning the maximum points after launching early. Vine crucially beat Ewart to the line for second to move himself above the Team Sapura rider into fifth position overall.
Mark O’Brien (KordaMentha Real Estate National Team / Inform TM Insight MAKE) and Ari Scott (Black Spoke) tried a bridging move from the peloton, but that was shut down as the pace of the main bunch began to ramp up into the sprint finish.
Vine and Ewart were the last to be caught after attacking clear of the front group, but they were still caught by the charging peloton in the final lap.
Mitchelton-Scott and EF Education First staged a battle of the sprint trains up the final climb of Anderson street, with Groves having to be aware to shut down Tom Scully (EF Education First) and then launch his sprint to take the win ahead of Dion Smith (Mitchelton-Scott) and Moreno Hofland (EF Education First).
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Written by Jamie Finch-Penninger