Groves Wins Stage 5 of Vuelta a Espana
Wednesday’s stage 5 of La Vuelta a España 2023 was a 186.2-kilometer ride from Morella to Burriana. The riders would have to compete in hilly terrain on a route that featured a single category 2 climb and several smaller hills.
On paper today’s route looked appealing for the sprinters in the Vuelta peloton - or for a group of breakaway strongmen. The general classification leaders were expected to use the stage to relax their legs as well as possible and recover further before the mountaintop finish in Thursday’s stage 6.
Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), Kobe Goossens (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty), and Movistar Team’s Ruben Guerreiro did not start today’s stage of La Vuelta a España 2023. Jayco-Alula’s Eddie Dunbar crashed early in the stage and had to abandon the race.
Several attacks were launched shortly after the start of the stage by riders hoping to establish a durable breakaway group that would have a decent chance of fighting for the stage victory. Riders active at the front included Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-EasyPost), Sean Quinn (EF Education-EasyPost), Jarrad Drizners (Lotto-Dstny), Mathis Leberre (Team Arkea-Samsic), and Sean Flynn (Team DSM-firmenich).
It was, however, Eric Antonio Fagundez of Team Burgos-BH who successfully broke away from the peloton. It then appeared that no other riders were interested in challenging the dominance of the Alpecin-Deceuninck team and its sprinter Kaden Groves. It appeared launching strong lieutenants into breakaways would be the only way to beat Groves in today’s stage, but no team – beyond Burgos-BH – had the courage and all other teams had given up already.
Fagundez built a lead of more than two minutes, while the Alpecin-Deceuninck team controlled the race from behind. All other teams were making it easy for the Alpecin-Deceuninck gang – and a boring watch for spectators at home and along the route.
The Jayco-Alula team lost an additional rider when Filippo Zana abandoned the race due to stomach issues. Other Jayco riders were at the back of the peloton ready to get off their bikes if needed.
Lotto-Dstny’s Eduardo Sepulveda attacked on the Collado de la Ibola (category 2) in order to earn more valuable points for the Best Climber Classification. He caught Fagundez on the climb and was first across the top.
The peloton was all together with twenty kilometers left of today’s stage 5. The front of the peloton was dominated by the UAE Team Emirates and Jumbo-Visma teams who were relieving Alpecin-Deceunick of their duties for a while before the intense sprint finale to come.
With six kilometer left, the Alpecin-Deceuninck team was back in front of the peloton and the speed was very fast. The road was wide and straight, but a dangerous 90-degree turn awaited shortly before the finish line. Would the riders navigate the turn well?
Three kilometers from the finish some riders went down in a roundabout. The Lotto-Dstny’s sprinter Milan Menten was one of the riders who crashed and so was Julius Johansen (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty).
Alpecin-Deceuninck were leading at the one-kilometer mark. Their lead-out train was working to perfection.
Ineos-Grenadiers’ Filippo Ganna tried his luck with a powerful acceleration, but Kaden Groves managed to pass him in the final meters to take his second stage victory in this year’s Vuelta a Espana. Groves completed the stage in 04:23:43. Ganna finished second, while Dries van Gestel (TotalEnergies) completed the stage podium.
Remco Evenepoel remains general classification leader before tomorrow’s mountain stage. Eric Mas is second, 11 seconds behind Evenepoel. Lenny Martinez is third, 17 seconds behind the Belgian World Champion and race leader. Jonas Vingegaard is fourth for Jumbo-Visma.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for news from La Vuelta a Espana 2023.
Support Roadcycling.com by visiting Wiggle (EU/UK) and Competitive Cyclist (USA) to buy bikes, cycling equipment and apparel. Take advantage of the great sale offers now and get the bike gear you need to make this your best season ever.