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Tour of Slovakia: Groves wins prologue

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SAUGUES FRANCE MAY 31 Kaden Groves of Australia and Team BikeExchange during the 73rd Critrium du Dauphin 2021 Stage 2 a 1728km stage from Brioude to Saugues 935m Feed Zone UCIworldtour Dauphin on May 31 2021 in Saugues France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Kaden Groves of Australia and Team BikeExchange (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Tour de Slovaquie 2021 65th Edition 1st Stage Kosice Kosice 16 km 15092021 Maciej Bodnar POL Bora Hansgrohe photo Igor StancikBettiniPhoto2021

Maciej Bodnar of Bora-Hansgrohe would finish seventh in prologue (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tour de Slovaquie 2021 65th Edition 1st Stage Kosice Kosice 16 km 15092021 Alvaro Jose Hodeg COL Deceuninck QuickStep photo Igor StancikBettiniPhoto2021

Alvaro Jose Hodeg of Deceuninck-QuickStep would crack the top five on the short prologue (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tour de Slovaquie 2021 65th Edition 1st Stage Kosice Kosice 16 km 15092021 Peter Sagan SVK Bora Hansgrohe photo Igor StancikBettiniPhoto2021

Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe was three seconds of the winning pace and finished 10th (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tour de Slovaquie 2021 65th Edition 1st Stage Kosice Kosice 16 km 15092021 Andrea Garosio ITA Bardiani CSF Faizane photo Igor StancikBettiniPhoto2021

Early rider on the 1.6km prologue course is Andrea Garosio (Bardiani CSF Faizane) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tour de Slovaquie 2021 65th Edition 1st Stage Kosice Kosice 16 km 15092021 Peter Sagan SVK Bora Hansgrohe photo Igor StancikBettiniPhoto2021

Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe prior to start of prologue (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tour de Slovaquie 2021 65th Edition 1st Stage Kosice Kosice 16 km 15092021 Chris Froome GBR Israel StartUp Nation photo Igor StancikBettiniPhoto2021

Chris Froome of Israel Start-Up Nation ready for prologue (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tour de Slovaquie 2021 - 65th Edition - 1st Stage Kosice - Kosice 1,6 km - 15/09/2021 - Roman Kreuziger (CZE - Gazprom - RusVelo) - photo Igor Stancik/BettiniPhoto©2021

Roman Kreuziger (Gazprom - RusVelo) answers questions prior to prologue (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tour de Slovaquie 2021 - 65th Edition - 1st Stage Kosice - Kosice 1,6 km - 15/09/2021 - Kern - photo Igor Stancik/BettiniPhoto©2021

Kern Pharma riders at the team presentation, held in Košice prior to prologue (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tour de Slovaquie 2021 65th Edition 1st Stage Kosice Kosice 16 km 15092021 Team DSM photo Igor StancikBettiniPhoto2021

Team DSM at the team presentation in Košice (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Kaden Groves (Team BikeExchange) took his first victory of the 2021 season and the overall race lead, winning the prologue of the Tour of Slovakia, a 1.6km, pan-flat course through the streets of central Košice.

On such a short course, the time gaps separating the riders were miniscule; Groves' winning time of 1:50.46 was a mere 0.32seconds faster than second-placed Jannik Steimle (Deceuninck Quickstep), the defending champion of this race. The long-time virtual leader Marceli Boguslawski (Mazowsze Serce Polski) rounded out the podium, finishing with a time of 1:51.37.

The explosive nature of the course lent itself to the attributes possessed by sprinters. As well as Groves, Cees Bol (Team DSM), Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck-Quickstep) and, much to the delight of his home crowd, Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohë) all finished in the top ten.

"It's a big relief," Groves said at the finish, "it's been a long day today waiting for my turn. I was last to go in my team and I just listened to the guys who went before and did what they said. I'm very happy to come away with the win today. The start and the corner were the most important sections of the course. Kicking out of that last corner and you needed to save a little bit on the start just to come home strong, I did that and I came home strong. It's my first time in Slovakia, it's really good to be here and I'm really keen for the rest of the week."

How it unfolded

As the last stage race before the UCI World Championships, the organisers of the Tour of Slovakia have made every effort to design a course that mimics that of the men's road race in Flanders next week. After the prologue, the peloton will tackle four stages across largely hilly terrain as they cross from one side of Slovakia to the other.

Following the team presentation in front of large crowds who had flocked to see the race and, most of all, a certain Peter Sagan embarking on his home tour for the first time, the prologue began. Taking place on the long main streets of the city centre, on a perfectly straight course except for one 180-degree turn, it offered more of a test of pure speed than any technical challenges.

Of the early starters, Frederik Madsen (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) proved the fastest, completing the course in 1:52.78, a full four seconds faster than anyone else had at this point.  Restrictions on the equipment- disc wheels and time-trial bikes were prohibited in this prologue- perhaps levelled the playing field between the WorldTour teams and the other teams present. Indeed, Madsen's time remained unchallenged by the first half of the peloton- WorldTour, ProContinental and Continental teams alike.

Only Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe), a rider renowned for his time-trialling ability- could surpass him and he set a new best time of 1:52.14. Just three riders later, however, Marceli Boguslawski (Mazowsze Serce Polski) leapfrogged Bodnar into the hotseat with a time of 1:51.37.

Boguslawski's time seemed good enough for victory; contenders for the overall classification such as Jai Hindley (Team DSM) and Alexey Lutsenko were unable to threaten his position as the virtual race leader.

Amongst the last few riders to start was Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) and as he passed by, the crowd held aloft their phones and cameras in an attempt to capture the time they saw the four-time Tour de France winner just metres in front of their lenses. As attentions and the TV cameras were focused on Froome, Groves slipped past, almost unnoticed, to record a new best time of 1:50.46.

A nervous wait ensued for Groves as Steimle, the last rider to set off, rolled down the start ramp with such ferocity he seemed likely to at least challenge for the win. Ultimately, though, Steimle crossed the line agonisingly short and finished 0.32seconds behind Groves.

As the winner of the first stage, the yellow, green, white and polka-dot jerseys all technically belong to Groves. Only the jersey worn by the best Slovak rider was unclaimed by him; Sagan, fittingly the Slovak national champion, will wear this tomorrow.

Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kaden Groves (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:01:50
2Jannik Steimle (Ger) Deceuninck-QuickStep
3Marceli Boguslawski (Pol) Mazowsze Serce Polski 0:00:01
4Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
5Alvaro Jose Hodeg Chagui (Col) Deceuninck-QuickStep
6Casper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM
7Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:02
8Frederik Madsen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
9Jason Osborne (Ger) Deceuninck-QuickStep
10Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:03
11Itamar Einhorn (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation
12Shane Archbold (NZl) Deceuninck-QuickStep
13Julius Johansen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
14Adrian Kurek (Pol) Mazowsze Serce Polski
15Leon Heinschke (Ger) Team DSM
16Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:04
17Fredrik Dversnes (Nor) Gazprom-RusVelo
18Michael Hepburn (Aus) Team BikeExchange
19Stijn Steels (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
20Erik Baska (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
21Riccardo Carretta (Ita) Cycling Team Friuli Asd
22Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Qhubeka NextHash 0:00:05
23Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
24Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
25Idar Andersen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
26Lukáš Kubiš (Svk) Dukla Banska Bystrica
27Jan Bárta (Cze) Elkov-Kasper
28Norman Vahtra (Est) Israel Start-up Nation
29Niklas Märkl (Ger) Team DSM
30Tomáš Bárta (Cze) Topforex ATT Investments Pro Cycling Team
31Jakub Otruba (Cze) Elkov-Kasper 0:00:06
32Andreas Stokbro Nielsen (Den) Qhubeka NextHash
33Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
34Luca Coati (Ita) Team Qhubeka
35Matúš Štoček (Svk) Topforex ATT Investments Pro Cycling Team
36Roger Adria Oliveras (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
37Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
38Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Start-up Nation
39Gleb Brussenskiy (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
40Adrian Banaszek (Pol) Mazowsze Serce Polski
41Nicolas Dalla Valle (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 0:00:07
42Francisco Galvan Fernandez (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
43Eirik Lunder (Nor) Gazprom-RusVelo
44Patrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
45Jonas Abrahamsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
46Davide Martinelli (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
47Miká Heming (Ger) Maloja Pushbikers
48Michael Kukrle (Cze) Elkov-Kasper
49Daniel Hoelgaard (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
50Giovanni Lonardi (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
51Samuel Bewley (NZl) Team BikeExchange
52Taj Jones (Aus) Israel Start-up Nation
53Danny Van Der Tuuk (Ned) Equipo Kern Pharma
54Adam Ťoupalík (Cze) Elkov-Kasper
55Savva Novikov (Rus) Equipo Kern Pharma
56Adam Foltán (Svk) Dukla Banska Bystrica
57Mattia Garzara (Ita) Cycling Team Friuli Asd
58Alexander Konychev (Ita) Team BikeExchange
59Igor Boev (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
60Antonio Puppio (Ita) Team Qhubeka
61Jai Hindley (Aus) Team DSM 0:00:08
62Tomáš Kalojíros (Cze) Cycling Academy Trenčín
63Dmitrii Strakhov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
64Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
65Aljaž Jarc (Slo) Adria Mobil
66Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team BikeExchange
67Boštjan Murn (Slo) Adria Mobil
68Hannes Wilksch (Ger) Team DSM
69Stanislav Béreš (Svk) Slovakia
70Asbjørn Andersen (Den) Team DSM
71Stephen Clancy (Irl) Team Novo Nordisk
72Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk 0:00:09
73David Per (Slo) Adria Mobil
74Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Gazprom-RusVelo
75Samuel Oros (Svk) Cycling Academy Trenčín
76Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
77Patrik Tybor (Svk) Dukla Banska Bystrica
78Dominik Neuman (Cze) Elkov-Kasper
79Matěj Zahálka (Cze) Elkov-Kasper
80Benjamin Perry (Can) Astana-Premier Tech
81Žiga Horvat (Slo) Adria Mobil
82Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 0:00:10
83Paul Taebling (Ger) Maloja Pushbikers
84Gabriele Petrelli (Ita) Cycling Team Friuli Asd
85Christopher Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange
86Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Israel Start-up Nation
87Martin Chren (Svk) Dukla Banska Bystrica
88Helmut Trettwer (Ger) Maloja Pushbikers
89Marek Čanecky (Svk) Dukla Banska Bystrica
90Jonas Wilsly (Den) Astana-Premier Tech
91Petr Klabouch (Cze) Topforex ATT Investments Pro Cycling Team
92Edoardo Sandri (Ita) Cycling Team Friuli Asd
93Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Qhubeka NextHash
94Gal Glivar (Slo) Adria Mobil 0:00:11
95Damiano Cima (Ita) Gazprom-RusVelo
96Filip Lohinský (Svk) Slovakia
97Jakub Kaczmarek (Pol) Mazowsze Serce Polski
98Tomasz Budzinski (Pol) Mazowsze Serce Polski
99Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
100Karel Tyrpekl (Cze) Topforex ATT Investments Pro Cycling Team
101Tobias Vančo (Svk) Dukla Banska Bystrica
102Piotr Brozyna (Pol) Mazowsze Serce Polski
103Marcin Budzinski (Pol) Mazowsze Serce Polski
104Jaime Castrillo Zapater (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
105Enrico Zanoncello (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
106ŠTefan Nôta (Svk) Slovakia
107Juraj Karas (Svk) Slovakia
108Frederik Wandahl (Den) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:12
109Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo Nordisk
110Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
111Denis Nekrasov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
112Dávid Kaško (Svk) Slovakia
113Chris Froome (GBr) Israel Start-up Nation
114Jan Stöhr (Cze) Cycling Academy Trenčín
115Dylan Sunderland (Aus) Qhubeka NextHash
116Simon Nagy (Svk) Cycling Academy Trenčín 0:00:13
117Petr Fiala (Cze) Topforex ATT Investments Pro Cycling Team
118Mehdi Benhamouda (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk
119Corey Davis (USA) Maloja Pushbikers
120Michal Schlegel (Cze) Elkov-Kasper
121Andrea Debiasi (Ita) Cycling Team Friuli Asd
122Sergio Araiz Michel (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
123Umberto Marengo (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
124Juraj Lajcha (Svk) Slovakia
125David Lozano Riba (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk
126Marcin Zarebski (Pol) Cycling Academy Trenčín 0:00:14
127Yuval Ben Moshe (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy
128Karel Camrda (Cze) Topforex ATT Investments Pro Cycling Team
129Tobias Hornstein (Ger) Maloja Pushbikers
130Sam Brand (GBr) Team Novo Nordisk
131Daniel Bichlmann (Ger) Maloja Pushbikers
132Umberto Poli (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk
133Andrea Garosio (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
134Choon Huat Goh (Sin) Team BikeExchange
135Jiří Petruš (Cze) Topforex ATT Investments Pro Cycling Team 0:00:15
136Laurin Von Stetten (Ger) Maloja Pushbikers
137Ivan Moreno Sanchez (Spa) Equipo Kern Pharma
138Karel Vacek (Cze) Qhubeka NextHash
139Pavel Stöhr (Cze) Cycling Academy Trenčín 0:00:16
140Kristian Kulset (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
141Aljaž Colnar (Slo) Adria Mobil
142Martin Haring (Svk) Dukla Banska Bystrica
143Ladislav Frolek (Svk) Cycling Academy Trenčín
144Martin Gavenda (Svk) Slovakia 0:00:18

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