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23-year-old Jai Hindley sealed victory at Jayco Herald Sun Tour Sunday, taking the first stage race win of the season for his young Sunweb team. The Australian finished in the bunch after Kaden Groves took the sprint finish for Mitchelton-Scott.
“It’s pretty amazing to get my name on that trophy with some pretty big names on there, so for me this is a huge win,” said overall champion Hindley. “It’s for sure the biggest win of my career so I’m thrilled to get it today.”
Sunday’s criterium around Melbourne was sure to come down to a sprint. After a breakaway went, Sunweb controlled the pack to protect the GC lead and sure enough, the bunch was all back together going into the final four-kilometer lap.
Mitchelton-Scott took up the pacing through the final lap as they looked to set up the sprint. Their ambitions briefly looked in danger after losing formation over the final climb of Anderson Street, but they managed to rally to drop Groves into the perfect position to outkick teammate Dion Smith and Moreno Hofland (EF Pro Cycling) in the final. It was neo-pro Groves’s second victory of the race, having also won the sprint finish in stage 3.
“The guys were perfect, keeping me fresh in every stage and delivering me to the finishes as smooth as possible. I think the results of the week are pretty good,” said 21-year-old Groves after the race.
Hindley finished in the bunch to protect the 10-second lead on GC he had forged Saturday with his victory atop Mount Buller.
“I’m super relieved to finish the tour off today and get the win, and repay the boys for all the hard work they’ve done this week,” he said after the race.
Having secured the overall and won two stages with Groves and a third with 21-year-old Italian Alberto Dainese, it’s a promising start to the season for Sunweb, who lost their talisman Tom Dumoulin in the off-season.
“It’s a young group we have here and we worked hard on our teamwork in the previous races in Australia,” said Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts. “The little things we picked up throughout the weeks in Adelaide and Geelong, the guys put into practice this week. We really started to make steps to become a very strong team this week, considering it’s such a young group, and we were able to almost dominate this race.”
Just as Sunweb and Mitchelton-Scott had success with their youngsters down under, so did EF Pro Cycling, who netted fourth overall with 23-year-old American Neilsen Powless.
Stage 5 results:
1. Kaden Groves: (Mitchelton-Scott) 1:58:38
2. Dion Smith: (Mitchelton-Scott): S.T.
3. Moreno Hofland: (EF Pro Cycling): S.T.
1. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb): 14:50:23
2. Sebastian Berwick (St George): +00:00:17
3. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-Scott): +00:00:36