Sam Welsford’s Stunning Victory: Bora-Hansgrohe Triumphs at Tour Down Under 2024’s Opener

Sam Welsford’s recent triumph in the Tour Down Under’s first stage in Tanunda has catapulted his team, Bora-Hansgrohe, into a successful start for the 2024 season. This victory is a significant milestone for the team, especially considering the eventful off-season they’ve experienced, including signing Primož Roglič and dealing with a potential Red Bull buyout.

Despite these off-road developments, the team’s true potential is being showcased in racing competitions. While Roglič is a focal point for the Tour de France, the entire squad demonstrated their strength in the opening stage of the Tour Down Under. Welsford’s win, aided by a superb leadout from his teammate, shows the team’s readiness for more victories and confidence in their new lineup.

In contrast to 2023, when Sam Bennett, another English-speaking sprinter, won only a handful of races, Welsford, who joined Bora from DSM-Firmenich PostNL, has already started making his mark. Bennett, now with Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale, has passed the baton to a new Sam in the team.

Danny van Poppel, Welsford’s leadout man, acknowledges the difference in sprinting styles between Bennett and Welsford, highlighting Welsford’s power and the team’s belief in his capabilities. The strategy for Welsford’s victory in Tanunda seemed straightforward: position him correctly and let him unleash his speed. He outpaced competitors like Phil Bauhaus, Biniam Girmay, and Caleb Ewan.

Shane Archbold, Welsford’s directeur sportif, admits that while the win may have seemed effortless, it involved meticulous planning and execution. He emphasizes the team’s adherence to their strategy and their successful start to the season, setting a positive tone for their future endeavors.

The Bora-Hansgrohe team’s performance at the Down Under Classic criterium, despite not clinching the win, underscored their confidence in Sam Welsford as a top sprinter. The team’s evident disappointment following the breakaway’s victory in the race highlighted their belief in Welsford’s capabilities.

Having a skilled leadout man like Danny van Poppel is a significant asset for the team. Despite Sam Bennett’s underwhelming second stint with Bora-Hansgrohe, Van Poppel’s expertise in navigating through the peloton and setting up sprint finishes is undeniable. His role in Jordi Meeus’ victory at the Champs Elysées in the previous year’s Tour is a testament to his proficiency.

Welsford himself praised Van Poppel’s remarkable skills, particularly in the last few kilometers of a race. His ability to remain composed, guide the team effectively, and almost predict movements within the race is invaluable. Welsford noted that Van Poppel’s efforts in the final 400 meters were crucial, setting him up perfectly for the sprint despite the intense challenge.

The mutual admiration between Welsford and Van Poppel is evident, with Van Poppel expressing high regard for Welsford and likening him to some of the greatest sprinters of recent times. This strong bond and mutual respect within the Bora-Hansgrohe team, particularly between the sprinter and his leadout, signify a promising dynamic that could lead to more successes in the future.

Danny van Poppel’s comments about Sam Welsford emphasize the latter’s immense power, a skill honed from his track cycling experience. Van Poppel draws parallels between Welsford and renowned sprinters like Kittel and Greipel, suggesting that with the right leadout, Welsford has the potential to match their achievements. He acknowledges the business aspect of cycling, indicating a shift in the team’s strategy with Welsford now leading the sprints.

Shane Archbold, while optimistic, remains cautiously realistic, referring to the team’s sprint strategy as a “train in progress.” The dynamic between Welsford, Van Poppel, and Ryan Mullen is still evolving, but early successes hint at a promising future.

Welsford himself understands the importance of confidence for sprinters, which comes from consistent good results. The victory at the Tour Down Under, being the team’s first win of the season and Welsford’s second at the WorldTour level, is a significant morale booster. It’s a testament to what the team can achieve together, especially considering Welsford’s relatively recent shift to road racing in 2022.

Van Poppel sees Welsford’s inexperience on the road as an advantage, describing him as “super hungry” and adaptable. He believes that Welsford has the potential to become a leading sprinter, especially within the framework of Bora-Hansgrohe’s team dynamics.

The team’s ambition for a rejuvenated sprinting approach, “Sam, but different,” got off to a promising start on the first day of the season, setting a positive tone for their upcoming challenges.


a 35-year-old web developer and cycling coach based in Boulder, Colorado. Over the past ten years, my passion for cycling has transformed from a casual hobby into a way of life. As a lover of all things cycling, I am thrilled to share my journey with others who share the same enthusiasm for this incredible sport.