BikeExchange-Jayco's youthful lead-out train helped deliver sprinter Kaden Groves to a podium spot and the best young rider's jersey on the opening stage of the Tour of Oman, as the 23-year-old mixed it up with veteran fastmen Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Mark Cavendish (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) to take third place in Muscat.
Groves was the best of the rest behind the two sprint stars on the windy, uphill finish at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, narrowly missing out on second as Cavendish sprinted past just ahead of the line.
After the stage, Groves paid tribute to his teammates in the lead-out, which in Oman consists of four other under-23 riders in Kelland O'Brien, Kevin Colleoni, Alexander Konyshev, and Campbell Stewart, as well as 25-year-old Callum Scotson and 34-year-old Cameron Meyer.
"[It was] really good. It was Campbell's first race with us today. He was up there and dropped me off on Gaviria with 500 metres to go. So, things looking good for this year and we're really motivated to build the sprint team. Now with Dylan [Groenewegen] on the team, I think it lifts the level of everyone so now it's really good thing," Groves said.
"First or second would've been better, but I can't complain. The guys did a really good job on their first time racing together. It was pretty messy coming in there but third and the young rider's jersey is not too bad to start the week and gives us confidence in the next days."
BikeExchange-Jayco had been massed on the front in the final kilometre, delivering the lead-out for Groves despite their relative lack of experience, before UAE Team Emirates took over in the closing 500 metres with Gaviria and his lead-out man Max Richeze.
Groves said afterwards that he was pleased with how the team worked, with the Australian squad among few fully organised teams setting up the sprint in the stage finale.
"There was a touch of wheels, lots of noise. After such an easy day it runs pretty fresh so it's always fast and chaotic," he said.
"We came up on the left-hand side with pretty much the full team and then UAE had control with Richeze and Gaviria taking it up with about 500 metres to go. But apart from that, there weren't too many organised teams apart from us and UAE. So, I think we did a really good job there.
"I was passed by a fast Cavendish with 100 metres to go, so he looks like he's in pretty good shape too, but QuickStep don't have their usual sprint team here with [Michael] Mørkøv and those guys so I think it's pretty even playing field for the rest of the week."
Groves, now in his third year as a pro and with three victories to his name with the team in that time, will have another chance to sprint on stage 2, a day which could be wind-affected as the peloton heads up the coast.
He said that, given his performance on day one, he feels like he should be able to come away from this Tour of Oman with another win on his palmarès.
"I'm not unhappy with third. It's more the performance I'm after and I didn't have the best legs in the finish, so if we can have a smoother run to the line I'm confident that with good legs I can get a win here."
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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.