Following a perfect leadout from his teammates, Groves, riding his new Propel Advanced SL aero road bike with a CADEX WheelSystem, unleashed his sprint with about 100 meters to go. The 23-year-old Australian powered past Dutch sprinter Danny van Poppel and German Tim Merlier, who finished second and third respectively.
“With about 50 to 100 meters to go I was fresher than the other guys who had to do efforts from behind to move up,” said Groves, who wore the Giant Pursuit helmet to earn the win. “Thankfully I was in the right position and got the gap to step out and do my sprint.”
It was the third win of the year for Groves, who also won stages at the Tour of Turkey and the Volta a Cataluyna earlier this season.
“Being my first grand tour win for sure this takes the cake,” Groves said. “I’m super happy to get a win here already, and there’s still more stages to come.”
It was a bittersweet day for Team BikeExchange-Jayco. At the same time the riders were celebrating their first win at this year’s Vuelta, they also faced the disappointment of losing team leader Simon Yates. The Brit, who was sitting fifth overall in the general classification, tested positive for COVID-19 and had to abandon the race before the start of Stage 11.
"It's been a really emotional day for everyone involved," said Team BikeExchange-Jayco sport director Gene Bates. "We woke up to the news of Simon being out of the race and it's tough to come back from something like that. But the guys did a tremendous job of refocusing, regrouping, and coming up with a super plan to deliver Kaden to the finish. Everyone played their role, everyone did a fantastic job, and they absolutely nailed the leadout."
The 193km Stage 11 from Elpozo Alimentación to Cabo de Gata was expected to be a day for the sprinters. The mostly flat route through southern Spain challenged riders with sweltering heat and crosswinds. An early breakaway group of three riders was caught with 26km to go, setting up a battle for positioning among teams aiming for the win. The BikeExchange-Jayco team proved strongest, giving Groves the opportunity to score the biggest win of his career so far.
“I have to thank all the guys,” Groves said. “Luke [Durbridge] was riding all day, and then we set up early for this wind. We thought there would be a crosswind a bit earlier, but there was nothing until the final four kilometers when we were the first team. The guys did perfect job keeping me in the front and fresh.”
The Vuelta a España continues with Stage 12 on Thursday and will conclude September 11 in Madrid.