Aussie sprinter joins select group at Vuelta a España

Australia World

Australian cyclist Kaden Groves has won his third stage of this year’s Vuelta a España, claiming a dramatic sprint on the final stage in Madrid.

Part of a select group of seven who broke away on the Madrid city circuit, Groves sprinted away from Remco Evenepoel — his only rival for the green jersey — just as the peloton caught the breakaway in the final straight.

Last year’s winner Evenepoel, who won this year’s King of the Mountains jersey, opened up his sprint early but faded badly in the closing stages after Groves kicked past him.

By winning the final stage, the Queenslander became the first Aussie to win the coveted green points jersey at this year’s Vuelta a España.

American Sepp Kuss claimed his first grand tour victory, leading a Jumbo-Visma 1-2-3 as cycling’s strongest team swept the podium.

Kuss, who has played a role in five of Jumbo-Visma’s last victories as a key domestique, finished just 17 seconds ahead of Tour de France winner Jonas Vingengaard and one minute, eight seconds ahead of Giro d’Italia winner Primož Roglič.

It is the first time a single team has won all three of cycling’s grand tours in a single season and, aside from an intriguing power struggle between the three teammates that played out in the final week, neither were seriously challenged for the overall victory.

Sepp Kuss holds up his bike

Sepp Kuss became the first American winner of a grand tour in a decade.(Getty Images: Tim de Waele)

Groves, 24, won stages four and five at this year’s Vuelta, with second-place finishes on stages two and 12 in a race with limited opportunities for the fast men.

Although the points jersey is traditionally thought of as a sprinter’s jersey, the Vuelta sprinters rarely claim the prize due to the difficulty of the terrain and lack of flat stages, meaning points for winning stages often go to climbers.

Groves managed to hold off last year’s overall champion Remco Evenepoel, his closest challenger who won three stages, by sprinting for bonus points within each stage.

The Queenslander joins illustrious company as one of just six men from Australia to have claimed a secondary jersey at one of cycling’s grand tours.

Robbie McKewan won three points jerseys at the Tour de France between 2002 and 2006, with Baden Cooke (2003) and Michael Matthews (2017) also taking top honours at the Tour.

Cadel Evans is the only Australian winner of the points jersey at the Giro d’Italia in 2010 after he picked up the-then red coloured maglia rosso passione — the same year Matthew Lloyd wore the King of the Mountains jersey at the same race, the only Aussie to do so.

No Australian has ever finished in the top three in the points classification at the Vuelta in the 70 years the points jersey has been awarded.

Aside from the major race-leaders jersey, grand tours award jerseys to other classification leaders, including the best young rider, the king of the mountain and the points jersey.

Australia has had more success in the King of the Mountains jersey, with Michael Storer (2021) and Simon Clarke (2012) wearing the blue polka dot jersey come the end of the Vuelta.

No Australian has ever won the King of the Mountains jersey at the Tour de France.