The Australian Kaden Groves (Alpecin Deceuninck) imposed the law of the fastest in the first sprint of the 2023 Vuelta and took glory on the fourth day, which united the mountain of Andorra la Vella with the Mediterranean coast of tarragonaa journey of 184.6 km that kept the Belgian Remco Evenepoel in the leader’s red jersey.
Day marked for the sprint and forecast fulfilled. Kaden Groves (Gympie, 24 years old), took the first sprint in the ancient Roman Tarraco, a step away from the amphitheater that the city boasts of. The “aussie” cyclist beat the Colombian Juan Sebastián Molano (UAE) in an interesting duel.
Third place went to the Belgian Edward Theuns (Lidl Trek), all with a time of 4h.05.41, at an average of 45.1 km/hour. There were no falls. One 4 km from the finish line that affected the Portuguese from Movistar Ruben Guerreiro and the Colombian Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain), and another 800 meters from the finish line that was cut off by the front group.
The favorites entered the same package, turning the page in a day that this time had no “strange” events. Evenepoel saved the red without problems, Although his idea is to give it up as soon as possible so as not to punish his team and avoid the procedures of a leader: podium ceremony, attention to the press, etc., etc.
The world time trial champion, who received an apology in Andorra from the organization for his fall at the finish line in Arinsal, maintained the differences: 5 seconds behind enric mas (Movistar), 11 in French lenny martinez (Groupama), 31 a vingegaard (Jumbo), 37 to roglic and 38 to Juan Ayuso (UAE).
After the storms, weather and other organizational aspects, finally the tranquillity a la Vuelta with the first appointment of sprinters. From the Andorran mountains to Tarragona, a journey that complied with the usual scheme of a consented and controlled escape, pursuit, neutralization and outcome by speed.
The escape was carried out by the Spanish ander okamika (Burgos-BH), common in this type of adventure, and David Gonzalez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), both “forced” to be seen, a necessary resource for the teams invited to participate in the Tour. Both left at the beginning together with the Argentine sepulveda (Lotto Dstny), dressed in his brand new blue polka dot jersey that distinguishes the leader of the mountain.
Teams with hopefuls for a sprint victory took charge of the pursuit, such as Alpecin from Kaden Groves, UAE from molano or the DSM of Alberto Dainise. All of them with “an established plan” so as not to miss one of the 5 opportunities that the sprinters will have in this edition.
The peloton did not get nervous before the arrival of the only two difficulties of the day. The 171 runners who were chasing the 3 fugitives with a favorable wind, gave themselves a truce until the moment of activating the sprint protocol.
A scheduled ride. Sepúlveda added points in the Belltall High (3a, 9.3 km to 3.7) and Coll de LIlla (3a, 5.2 km 4.9) and consolidated his moles. Relaxation for the Argentine, who allowed himself to be hunted before his two companions in fatigues. At 19 km the block shot in perfect union.
Molano launches the sprint
Another stage began at that moment, the one that should give glory to the best sprinter. The width of the highway allowed many teams to position approach managers. The usual nerves began, the fight for the best position of the “cheetahs”.
In full fray came the first fall 4 km from the finish line. One of the favorites, the Frenchman Bryan Coquard, was eliminated for the victory, and Buitrago and Guerreiro were hit. The machinery, already unstoppable until Tarragona, did not stop.
The UAE worked to place Molano, and the Colombian was the first to show his cards by attacking from afar on the finish line. But he stuck to his wheel Kaden Groves, who said at the start that he had prepared “a plan” to win. The “aussie” went up meter by meter and raised his arms as the first sprint emperor in the Vuelta 2023.
And he did it in his talismanic land, as Groves has 3 stages to his credit in the back to catalonia, 2 of them achieved this season. He also did a double in the Vuelta. He beat the Cabo de Gata in 2022, and in the Giro he opened his record this year in Salerno. The plan worked out perfectly.
This Wednesday the fifth stage will unite the towns of Morella and Burriana through 186.2 km of route. A single difficulty, the Collado de Ibola (2a, 11.4 km to 3.9), with the summit more than 50 km from the finish line. Another opportunity for a break or sprint.