Gympie cycling star Kaden Groves set for global spin
THREE years ago, riding a bike usually involved a motor for Kaden Groves.
Today he's the saddle for the St George Continental Cycling Team competing in China's 12-stage Tour of Poyang Lake.
After a motorcycle crash just over two years ago, Groves was introduced to the sport when he climbed aboard a spin bike as part of his knee injury recovery.
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His first race was with Sunshine Coast Cycling Club on March 22, 2015.
Since then the 18-year-old has become a powerhouse.
Groves won last year's under-19 road race national championship at Canberra and after finishing Year 12 at Gympie has moved to Maroochydore with a pure cycling focus.
Having previously trained under Noosa coach Ron Boyle, Groves is now "doing my own thing” and riding with fellow rising star Ryan Cavanagh.
His new approach has paid dividends and the youngster was in white-hot form heading for China.
In his home town, Groves claimed victory in all three stages of the Queensland Road Teams Series. He also won the elite Queensland individual time trial just weeks before at North Stradbroke Island.
Groves' parents are supporting him as he takes a serious tilt at the sport, which he attributes to his most recent success.
"There's no secret really. Just big weeks on the bike,” he said.
"I do around 16-20-hour weeks, which is between 500-700km. It's been a big jump but it's really good.It helps being full-time, you have time to recover.”
Since last year's national title it has been a steep learning curve.
Riding the Tour of Poyang Lake last year saw Groves exposed to a big stage race.
That event led to him being approached by St George, a club regarded as one of the nation's most successful, laying claim to producing more than 100 national representatives.
He rode with St George at the Herald Sun Tour in February, where he rode in the peloton alongside some of the world's best, including four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and Team Sky and Orica-Scott's Simon Gerrans.
"It was awesome to race against Froome and the like,” Groves said.
"It was really good racing. Seeing the benchmark being set so high was really good and it makes you want to train harder.”
Ahead of flying out, Groves said he was looking forward to his China return.
"I raced this tour last year and I was inexperienced,” he said.
"Now I know what I'm in for. There is a lot of really flat and fast racing and a few days for the climbers. I'm probably one of two sprinters.”
Early form looks good and he won the opening stage on Tuesday in a sprint finish.
After Groves returns on September 25 he will head for another tour in China 10 days later and there are other races in Malaysia and Indonesia among the plans.
After finishing his road race commitments, his attention will turn to the track as he prepares with the men's team pursuit youth squad for the Cycling Australia Madison National Championships on December 17.
Groves said he would continue to ride for St George overseas, and The Pedaler team locally.
"I have worked hard and it's nice to get the results,” he said.
"I enjoy parts of both (track and road). There are two pathways, I don't quite know which one I'll take yet...the Tokyo Olympics would be be cool.”