Vuelta a España 2023: Breathless Breakaway Victory for Groves As Kuss Secures Red Jersey in Stage 21 Finale

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Kaden Groves crosses the finish line ahead of a frustrated Filippo Ganna on Stage 21 of the 2023 Vuelta a Espana.

Kaden Groves delivered a breathtaking victory in an astonishing finale to the 2023 Vuelta a España, as Sepp Kuss finished safely in the peloton to secure a magnificent maiden Grand Tour win.

The processional final stage of a Grand Tour is almost unfailingly a dull affair, with the only real drama coming in the sprint finish.

On paper, that green jersey Kaden Groves should snatch the win might not seem like a surprise at all, but the manner in which he claimed victory made this a Grand Tour finale for the ages.

The Australian joined an ambitious breakaway at around 35 km to go. Under normal circumstances, a late breakaway on a Grand Tour finale such as this would be near-suicidal – but with superstars Filippo Ganna and Remco Evenepoel involved, it rapidly became apparent the group posed a serious threat.

Remco Evenepoel leads Kaden Groves in the breakaway on Stage 21 of the 2023 Vuelta a Espana.

Their lead over the peloton never extended beyond around 20 seconds as the breakaway furiously hunted down the leaders in a bid to set up a sprint finish, but at 1 km to go the escapees looked to have done enough to fight for the victory between themselves.

However, with the peloton breathing down their necks, last-minute game-playing in the breakaway appeared to have scuppered their chances, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as the two groups were brought back within a hair’s width with the finish line in sight.

Realizing what was unfolding, Evenepoel blinked first, launching an attack – presumably aware he was sacrificing any hope of the stage win, but preferring to see one of his breakaway companions’ efforts rewarded rather than handing victory back to the peloton.

With Evenepoel acting as an unorthodox lead-out man, Groves and Ganna were left to fight it out to the line, with the former delivering perhaps the longest-range sprint of his career to take the stage win and secure the Points Classification in style.

“From a breakaway? That was not my intention”

“We came into today wanting to attack the stage and obviously keep the green jersey – but from a breakaway? That was not my intention,” said Groves after the finish.

“Remco this morning was a threat for the green jersey, so I suspected he might try something – not to take the jersey but to try and win the stage. I knew I had to follow him, so when he went, thankfully Edward [Planckaert] did a great job to pull me across the gap.

“I didn’t want to pull the guys in the last kilometre, because obviously it would take away my sprint. We all looked at each other and that meant the peloton could come back together.

“I knew that in the sprint I could find a little extra. Remco leading out at 500 meters was a big advantage to me.”

Sepp Kuss celebrates winning the 2023 Vuelta a Espana by lifting his bike above his head while surrounded by teammates on the road in Madrid.

Sepp Kuss brings it home

With the unexpected drama unfolding further up the road, the conclusion of Sepp Kuss’ maiden Grand Tour victory risked being a little overshadowed.

One suspects that the ever-humble American won’t have been too bothered.

Kuss has been exceptional in winning the Vuelta, showing outstanding racing instincts to snatch the lead, and true guts in defending it – even against his more celebrated teammates.

He has weathered adversity with grit and good grace, seemingly unfazed even as Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič – whose own successes owe so much to the efforts of Kuss – launched attacks against him, enduring a situation few other Grand Tour leaders in history have been confronted with.

Only on Stage 18 did the Jumbo-Visma team finally appear to unite fully behind Kuss, working together to deliver a victory that appeared to be slipping beyond his grasp under the pressure of teammates who ought to have been by his side.

Nonetheless, Jumbo-Visma’s 1-2-3 podium lockout completes a hat-trick of Grand Tour victories for the team – a feat that never achieved before.

Sepp Kuss, Primoz Roglic, and Jonas Vingegaard pose in their winner's jerseys from the 2023 Vuelta a Espana, Giro d'Italia, and Tour de France respectively.

The Dutch outfit’s dominance is underlined by the fact that the three wins were achieved by three different riders (Roglič at the Giro, Vingegaard at the Tour, and Kuss at the Vuelta), demonstrating a strength in depth that makes them the envy of the cycling world.

However, such success also raises new questions for the team.

Will Kuss be satisfied with returning to the role of super-domestique, now that he’s a Grand Tour winner in his own right? Might another outfit be able to tempt one of Jumbo-Visma’s away with the promise of unchallenged supremacy within the team?

With so many rivals desperately in need of legitimate General Classification contenders, the upcoming off-season looks set to provide more intrigue than most.

Sepp Kuss, Jonas Vingegaard, and Primoz Roglic celebrate their 1-2-3 finish on the podium of the 2023 Vuelta a Espana.

“Today was the stage that I suffered the most”

“It’s incredible,” said Kuss moments before the podium presentation.

“I think today was the stage that I suffered the most of the whole race. Now I’m just glad it’s over.

“I knew it would be a fast stage when I saw all those guys getting ready to attack in the beginning. It was a nice way to finish it off.

“It’s life-changing for sure but I’ll look back on this experience with a lot of fond memories. I think it will take a long time to sink in.”

Vuelta A España 2023: Stage 21 Results

  1. GROVES Kaden (AUS/Alpecin-Deceuninck): 2:24:13
  2. GANNA Filippo (ITA/INEOS Grenadiers): Same time
  3. DENZ Nico (GER/BORA-hansgrohe):
  4. PAGE Hugo (FRA/Intermarché-Circus-Wanty):
  5. GARCÍA CORTINA (SPA/Iván Movistar Team):
  6. COSTA Rui (POR/Intermarché-Circus-Wanty):
  7. VAN DEN BERG Marijn (NED/EF Education-EasyPost):
  8. EVENEPOEL Remco (BEL/Soudal-QuickStep):
  9. VAN GESTEL Dries (BEL/TotalEnergies):
  10. KÄMNA Lennard (GER/BORA-hansgrohe):
Kaden Groves, Juan Ayuso, Sepp Kuss, and Remco Evenepoel pose in their respective jerseys on the podium of the 2023 Vuelta a Espana.

Vuelta A España 2023: Final General Classification Standings

  1. KUSS Sepp (USA/Jumbo-Visma): 76:48:21
  2. VINGEGAARD Jonas (DEN/Jumbo-Visma): + 0:17
  3. ROGLIČ Primož (SLO/Jumbo-Visma): + 1:08
  4. AYUSO Juan (SPA/UAE Team Emirates): + 3:18
  5. LANDA Mikel (SPA/Bahrain Victorious): + 3:37
  6. MAS Enric (SPA/Movistar Team): + 4:14
  7. VLASOV Alexander (BORA-hansgrohe): + 7:53
  8. UIJTDEBROEKS Cian (BEL/BORA-hansgrohe):  + 8:00
  9. ALMEIDA João (POR/UAE Team Emirates): + 10:08
  10. BUITRAGO Santiago (COL/Bahrain Victorious): + 11:38

Vuelta A España Jerseys (Final)

Red Jersey

KUSS Sepp (Jumbo-Visma)

Green Jersey


Polka-Dot Jersey

EVENEPOEL Remco (Soudal – QuickStep)

White Jersey

AYUSO Juan (UAE Team Emirates)

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As a UESCA-certified cycling coach, Rory loves cycling in all its forms, but is a road cyclist at heart. He clocked early on that he had much more of a talent for coaching and writing about bikes than he ever did racing them. In recent years, the focus of Rory's love affair with cycling has shifted to bikepacking - a discipline he found well-suited to his "enthusiasm-over-talent" approach.

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