The Tour Down Under kicks off the professional cycling season and hosts international and local stars including Filippo Ganna, Julian Julian Alaphilippe, Caleb Ewan and Lukas Plapp who just secured his third Australian title. It is also a testing ground for new riders and rising stars such as Sam Welsford who took the first stage and GC lead in Stage one. Following the success of fellow Australia Sarah Gigante of Team Movistar in the women’s Tour Down Under, the comparatively flat opening stage is a strong start for the West Australian who has represented Australia in track cycling and is a new recruit for team Bora Hansgrohe.
The 144km opening stage featured three laps through the Barossa Vally in South Australia, starting and finishing in Tanunda. Throws of cyclists ventured 75km from Adelaide city as official temperatures soared to 32ºC and joined fans in the towns and hills to cheer on 139 starters. Only the French Arkea-B&B Hotels rider Louis Barre and German Intermarché-Wanty rider were allowed to break away and lead the peloton into the first loop before being pulled back. A few minor tumbles aside, the well behaved peloton focussed on the finish which saw Sam Welsford in front of Phil Bauhaus and Biniam Girmay across the line. Sprint Favourite Caleb Ewan of Team Jayco-Alula came through in ninth.