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Sam Welsford on Winning Stage 1 of Tour Down Under: “That was crazy, I’m at a loss for words”

By Monica Buck

In a thrilling start to the Tour Down Under, Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sam Welsford emerged victorious in Tanunda, marking a successful debut with his new team. Welsford outpaced rivals Phil Bauhaus of Bahrain Victorious and Biniam Girmay of Intermarché-Wanty, securing first place in the opening stage.

The team’s strategy centered on protecting their lead sprinter, Welsford, as they navigated the peloton, setting him up for a final push towards victory. Welsford made his move following teammate Danny Van Poppel, crossing the finish line with a celebratory gesture.

Last year’s Tanunda victor, Bauhaus, was outmatched in speed this time, finishing second. Meanwhile, Jayco-AlUla’s Caleb Ewan, initially trailing Welsford, was eventually overtaken by Girmay’s impressive surge.

With this win, Welsford not only clinched the stage but also leads the general classification, holding a four-second advantage over Bauhaus and a six-second lead over Girmay. In close pursuit is Corbin Strong of Israel-Premier Tech, trailing by seven seconds due to intermediate sprint bonuses.

Reflecting on the race, Welsford expressed his amazement: “That was crazy, I’m at a loss for words. It was very hairy down the hill, lots of crashes and near misses, but the boys just kept calm, be patient and wow they did an amazing for me today,” acknowledging the challenges and his team’s support. He added, “First race with the guys and they backed me one hundred percent. That’s super special, first one of the year to get a win. I’m stoked.”

The descent of Menglers Hill, 13 kilometers from the finish, proved pivotal, with the peloton enduring a frenetic and somewhat chaotic race. Welsford commented on the descent’s intensity, noting, “It was pretty fast on the downhill, we were going around those long bends, upwards of 100km an hour. Everyone’s trying to be at the front as well, so then it comes pretty messy but hope everyone’s alright cos there’s still more, you know, five more days left.”

Tour Down Under – Stage 1

1. WELSFORD Sam, BORA-hansgrohe, 03:25:56
2. BAUHAUS Phil, Bahrain Victorious, + 00
3. GIRMAY Biniam, Intermarché-Wanty, + 00
4. EWAN Caleb, Team Jayco-AlUla, + 00
5. NARVAEZ Jhonnatan, INEOS Grenadiers, + 00
6. KANTER Max, Astana Qazaqstan Team, + 00
7. VAN POPPEL Danny, BORA-hansgrohe, + 00
8. STRONG Corbin, Israel-Premier Tech, + 00
9. MIHKELS Madis, Intermarché-Wanty, + 00
10. VACEK Mathias, Lidl-Trek, + 00