Welsford Secures Tour Down Under Debut
The race is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere and the only Australian stage race with UCI WorldTour status.
It is a huge achievement for the 21-year old Welsford, a track specialist and reigning team pursuit world champion and Olympic silver medallist, who has joined the ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast team to bolster his road racing experience.
“To race at Tour Down Under has always been a dream of mine, so I’m very excited to get the chance,” said Welsford.
“I’ve come into some good form recently, after some wins on the track at the Tassie Carnivals and then some good results at Nationals last week, so I’m really looking forward to testing my legs against some big sprinters. I know it will be a step up in intensity, but I’m keen to see what the UniSA-Australia team can pull off.”
The UniSA-Australia team is selected annually following the National Road Championships, and offers some of the nation’s best riders in Continental and Pro Continental teams the chance to race at WorldTour level.
ACA-Ride Sunshine Coast team director Ben Kersten said it is a huge opportunity for Welsford, and will allow him to test his skills against some of the world’s best riders.
“The TDU attracts the world’s biggest teams, and most send their top sprinters to get in some early-season racing out of the European winter,” said Kersten.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Sam in terms of the experience gained and it’s also a huge chance for him to showcase his talent on the world stage, with all of the big teams watching.”
“The TDU’s opener, the People’s Choice Classic on Sunday, is a particularly good opportunity for Sam, it’s a circuit race that suits his characteristics and we’re excited to see what he can do in a straight-up sprint against some of the world’s best sprinters. He’s got the speed to be competitive against those guys, but it’s the experience of racing at this level that will be invaluable for him,” said Kersten.
The Santos Tour Down Under begins in Adelaide Sunday 14th January with the People's Choice Classic, followed by stage one on Monday 15th January. All stages of the race will be broadcast exclusively across the Nine Network from Sunday.