MADRID (Reuters) – American Sepp Kuss rolled into Madrid as winner of the Vuelta a Espana as the three-week race concluded with a thrilling bunch sprint won by Australian Kaden Groves on Sunday.
Kuss began the race very much in the shadow of his more illustrious Jumbo-Visma team mates Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic but ended it with the red jersey on his shoulders.
The 29-year-old ended 17 seconds ahead of Denmark’s Tour de France winner Vingegaard with Slovenia’s Giro d’Italia winner Roglic one minute and eight seconds behind in third place.
It is the first time that a single team has won all three Grand Tours in a season.
Kuss’s first Grand Tour overall victory was effectively wrapped up on Saturday and there was a celebratory mood amongst the Dutch team on the 101km 21st stage that concluded on a street circuit around the iconic landmarks of Madrid.
But the battle for the stage victory was a thriller as a small lead group featuring Groves and Remco Evenepoel was gradually reeled in by the peloton in the final 500m.
Belgium’s Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) eventually went off in search of his fourth stage win of the race but he could sustain his effort and was overtaken by Groves with 200m left.
Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) then poured on the power to take the win ahead of Ineos Grenadiers rider Filippo Ganna and Germany’s Nico Denz (Bora Hansgrohe).
While Kuss celebrated the overall victory, Groves secured the green jersey for the points category — the first Australian to achieve that in the Vuelta.
Evenepoel, whose hopes of retaining his overall title evaporated on stage 13, ended with the consolation of the climber’s jersey after a brilliant tour.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman)
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