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Groves on Stage 5 Win: “It’s a fantastic feeling”

By Monica Buck

Continuing his stellar performance in the 2023 Vuelta a España, Kaden Groves of Alpecin-Deceuninck clinched victory in the fifth stage, held in Burriana. Groves’ main rival, Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers, put up a spirited challenge, accelerating from the fifth position, yet falling short of surpassing Groves. Securing the third position was Dries Van Gestel from TotalEnergies.

Reflecting on his win, Groves shared, “It’s a fantastic feeling, the second win of this Vuelta, and two in a row,” said Groves. “At the end, it was a pretty hectic final today, similar to yesterday but without climbing. The wind made it quite nervous but my team was fantastic again. We lost three guys in a crash with 2.5km to go but luckily my lead out was still there and we could organise for the final.”

The aftermath of the dramatic crash during the fourth stage resulted in multiple departures: Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) withdrew due to a knee injury; Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) sustained a fractured scapula; and Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar) suffered a broken collarbone. Adding to the list, Eddie Dunbar (Jayco-AlUla) faced a setback following a neutral zone mishap on Wednesday, prompting him and teammate Filippo Zana to abandon the race.

The race saw initial attacks from Sean Quinn (EF Education-EasyPost) and Jarrad Drizners (Lotto-Dstny), followed by Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-EasyPost) and Sean Flynn (dsm-firmenich). Eventually, solo rider Eric Fagundez (Burgos-BH) took the spotlight, braving the 186.5km route to Burriana on his own.

Sprinter teams maintained a strategic distance, allowing Fagundez to establish a five-minute lead before methodically closing the gap over the next 100km. Despite Fagundez’s efforts to ascend the category 2 Collado de Ibola solo, Eduardo Sepulveda (Lotto Dstny) overtook him to secure maximum points.

Kaden Groves
Groves in the final sprint before the finish. © Profimedia

As the race progressed, Fagundez rejoined the main group, and not long after, Sepulveda was brought back into the fold. The next significant move occurred during the intermediate sprint, where Evenepoel showcased his prowess, outpacing both Groves and Casper Pedersen (Soudal-QuickStep) to claim a six-second bonus.

The race’s climax approached with a mishap at a roundabout less than 3km from the finish, ratcheting up the tension. However, Evenepoel and his team remained undeterred, pressing forward until the final kilometer. The climax saw Alpecin-Deceuninck launch a formidable lead-out for Groves. Ganna attempted a last-minute dash, but Groves, with impeccable timing, seized his second consecutive stage win.

The general classification contenders opted to conserve energy for the anticipated summit finish, making it a second successive day where sprinters were the main focus. Adding the six-second bonus, Evenepoel now holds an 11-second advantage over Enric Mas from Movistar, with Lenny Martinez of Groupama-FDJ trailing at 17 seconds.

Vuelta a España Stage 5 Results:

1. GROVES Kaden, Alpecin-Deceuninck – 04:23:43
2. GANNA Filippo, INEOS Grenadiers – +00
3. VAN GESTEL Dries, TotalEnergies – +00
4. DAINESE Alberto, Team dsm-firmenich – +00
5. ASKEY Lewis, Groupama-FDJ – +00
6. THEUNS Edward, Lidl-Trek – +00
7. GONZÁLEZ David, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA – +00
8. SOUPE Geoffrey, TotalEnergies – +00
9. EZQUERRA Jesus, Burgos-BH – +00
10. DRIZNERS Jarrad, Lotto Dstny – +00

Vuelta a España General Classification:

1. EVENEPOEL Remco, Soudal Quick-Step – 17:12:29
2. MAS Enric, Movistar Team – +11
3. MARTINEZ Lenny, Groupama-FDJ – +17
4. VINGEGAARD Jonas, Jumbo-Visma – +37
5. VLASOV Aleksandr, BORA-hansgrohe – +39
6. UIJTDEBROEKS Cian, BORA-hansgrohe – +39
7. ROGLIC Primoz, Jumbo-Visma – +43
8. AYUSO Juan, UAE Team Emirates – +44
9. SOLER Marc, UAE Team Emirates – +48
10. ALMEIDA Joao, UAE Team Emirates – +48