Riding his Giant Propel Advanced SL team bike with a CADEX 65 WheelSystem, Groves earned his first career grand tour win following a perfect lead-out from his team, which proved strongest on a stage that was made for the sprinters.
“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 edged out Dutch sprinter Danny van Poppel and German Tim Merlier, second and third respectively. “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 lost team leader Simon Yates, who tested positive for COVID-19 and had to abandon the race while sitting fifth overall in the general classification.
The 193km Stage 11 took riders along the southwest coast of Spain through the Murcia and Almería regions. The mostly flat route offered up sweltering heat and crosswinds as its main challenges.
An early breakaway group of three riders was caught with 26km to go, setting up a battle for positioning among the sprinters’ teams that were 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.