Sam Welsford celebrated his 28th birthday in remarkable style by clinching his third stage victory in the Tour Down Under. The Australian cyclist, representing Bora Hansgrohe, demonstrated his sprinting prowess yet again in the 136-kilometre stage from Murray Bridge to Port Elliot, which concluded in a frenetic sprint amidst a strong cross tailwind.
Despite losing the wheel of his lead-out man, Danny van Poppel, in the closing meters, Welsford skilfully latched onto the wheels of Jhonatan Narvaez and Elia Viviani from Ineos Grenadiers. His strength in the finish was undeniable as he outpaced Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay and the Netherlands’ Lars Boven.
Reflecting on the victory, Welsford expressed his amazement, highlighting the rapid pace of the final stretch and his tactical manoeuvre to use the other riders as a lead-out. His success has been a testament to the exceptional support from his Bora Hansgrohe team, who have provided stellar lead-out work throughout the race.
Girmay, who finished second, acknowledged Welsford’s superior form, noting his own lighter preparation compared to the Australian.
Stage 2 winner Isaac del Toro of Mexico continues to hold a slender overall lead, just a second ahead of New Zealand’s Corbin Strong, with France’s Axel Mariault in third. The final two stages, featuring hilltop finishes, are expected to shift the focus away from the sprinters, with del Toro well-placed for these challenges.
Del Toro shared his cautious approach to the sprint stage, aiming to minimise risks while maintaining his lead in anticipation of the upcoming hilly stages.
Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL had a steady day, focusing on keeping GC contender Oscar Onley safe ahead of the weekend’s challenges. The final kilometres proved hectic for the team, with Emils Liepins unable to contest the finish due to braking issues, and Pavel Bittner finishing just outside the top ten.
Chris Hamilton, the team’s road captain, described the stage as relatively straightforward, with their primary goal being to protect Onley for the upcoming stages.
Team Visma | Lease a Bike also had a trouble-free day, with sports director Addy Engels emphasising the importance of staying out of trouble to prepare for the crucial stage five finish on Willunga Hill, considered the queen stage of the race.
With the general classification expected to be decided on Willunga Hill, Engels expressed confidence in the team’s readiness and ambition to support Milan Vader in seeking a strong result.
As the Tour Down Under heads into its final weekend, the teams are gearing up for the pivotal stages that will ultimately determine the race’s overall standings.
2024 Tour Down Under Men Stage 4 result
Results powered by FirstCycling.com
Main photo credit: Cor Vos