In a thrilling start to the 2024 Women’s World Tour season, Ally Wollaston of AG Insurance-Soudal emerged victorious in the first stage of the Women’s Tour Down Under. The New Zealander showcased her sprinting prowess, overtaking Georgia Baker of Liv AlUla Jayco in the final 50 meters of a challenging mass sprint. Sofia Bertizzolo of UAE Team ADQ completed the podium with a commendable third place.
The opening stage was marked by a heated contest among the fast-finishers, with their sprint trains navigating the twisting and intense final kilometres. Wollaston, aged 23, was quick to attribute her success to the exceptional support from her team. She shared her struggles with confidence in bunch sprints, praising her teammates for their exceptional positioning and teamwork which played a pivotal role in the win.
Wollaston’s triumph not only marked her first World Tour win but also earned her the prestigious leader’s ochre jersey. Despite this, she remains realistic about the upcoming stages, acknowledging the challenges ahead and expressing modest expectations about retaining the jersey throughout the race. She highlighted her team’s strategy, focusing on teammate Sarah Gigante for the race’s later stages.
The 93.9km stage, stretching from Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills to Campbelltown, was also notable for the blistering heat typical of the January Tour, with temperatures nearing 40 degrees. The race saw early action with Ruby Roseman-Gannon, the newly-crowned Australian champion, claiming the first intermediate sprint ahead of teammate Baker.
A breakaway group featuring Matilda Raynolds, Katia Ragusa, India Grangier, and Kate Richardson dominated much of the stage. Raynolds launched a solo effort after the second Queen of the Mountain checkpoint, gaining a significant lead over the peloton. However, her valiant efforts were eventually neutralised in the final 10km.
Australian Maeve Plouffe, a hopeful for the stage win, encountered difficulties and fell behind in the last 20km. The stage also marked the return of Ruth Edwards of Human Powered Health to racing after a two-year break.
2024 Women’s Tour Down Under Stage 1 result
Results powered by FirstCycling.com
Main photo credit: Tim de Waele (Getty)