The men’s Santos Tour Down Under ended with Stephen Williams in the ochre-coloured winners jersey and a special overall victory for Israel-Premier Tech after another week of entertaining and fascinating early-season racing.
The 2024 Tour Down Under proved yet again that professional racing rarely follows a script, sparking agony for some but celebration for others.
Jayco AlUla were bullish before their home race but left empty handed. Sam Welsford was sprinting for a new team but Bora-Hansgrohe were perfect in the way they led him out and he finished off the task with speed and power, announcing himself as a new sprinter on the block.
Isaac Del Toro proved that young talent can win on their WorldTour debut, while Israel-Premier Tech showed that they can race and win at WorldTour level.
The men’s Tour Down Under followed a successful edition of the women’s race, with the new RADL GRVL gravel event adding an extra dimension, alongside the huge crowds, bike Expo, daily rides and everything that is good about major WorldTour racing.
The Tour Down Under has again set the bar high. Now it’s up to every other race, rider and team to continue with a successful 2024 professional road racing season.
Cyclingnews was once again the ground in Adelaide with Australian Editor Simone Giuliani and Sophie Smith. These seven conclusions reflect everything they saw and reported on in the last week.
‘That’s bike racing’
Jayco-AlUla came into the Tour Down Under looking like the team to beat but left Adelaide in disappointment.
Luke Plapp dominated the Australian National Championships and Caleb Ewan even took the criterium title on his return to the team. It was such an impressive run that their team leader, Simon Yates joked that he was not even needed in Australia.
The team was definitely a team on a high at a presentation at a Jayco dealership, with Plapp joking that his dual Australian titles were all down to the accommodation at his training location near Bright – a Jayco caravan of course. At which point Gerry Ryan – team owner as well as the founder of the brand, chimed in that they were going to paint one green and gold for him.
The pre-race fun and games soon turned into the serious business of racing. That is when things started running less smoothly.
Ewan was unwell on the lead in to the Tour Down Under and the hoped for…