Santos Tour Down Under 2024 – Stage 1

The first stage should end in a bunch sprint.

Route

We have three laps near Tanunda. No big climbs.

Weather

The wind will pick up tomorrow. We have reports saying close to 30 km/h which is more than enough for splits. In case you’ve forgotten during the winter; headwind (red), Cross/headwind (orange), Tailwind (green), Cross/tailwind (lime), Crosswind (yellow), Tailwind (green). We are often trying to spot the cross-tailwind.

The only section I can see is the one leading up to Menglers Hill but to me it looks more like a tailwind. We will have to see, if the wind picks up. This is also for wind-gusts, meaning the wind will be closer to 5 m/s and not 8 m/s.

How will the stage unfold?

Fairly simple. We will see a sprint finale. Long run-in, so speed is crucial. However, stay in a good position. Ask Caleb Ewan, finishing 2nd here in 2023 after starting in position 15 or so. There is plenty of space on the wide road.

With just a few sprinters here really, there should be a few lead-out men who should perform better than the rest if they consider themselves among the best.

Contenders

Bauhaus – it is only fitting to start with last year’s winner here. Bauhaus had better support last time in Tanunda, he had Nikias Arndt. This time, he will likely be isolated but he is big enough to be on his own in a sprint like this. Top 3 would be a big result.

Ewan – a very fast man with very little help. If Plapp is nice, he slots in 4th before O’Brien and Stewart. They won the Down Under Classic, with a good lead-out too. That should be good fuel for the coming week. I just hope to see him trust his lead-out men again.

Welsford – I have big hopes for him. Simply because they are giving him Danny van Poppel as a lead-out man. He should be the most dominant lead-out rider here. Mullen can keep them near the front for half the race, so that potential issue is sorted. We will just have to see if they click.

Girmay – they are sending some team to support him. Mihkels and Smith provide speed yet I’m not sure how much racing the three of them have done together. I have underestimated Girmay in the past, he should be one of the quickest here.

Strong – I would be surprised to see much more than a top-10.

Viviani – him or Ganna? What are the plans for the Empire. No press release. I’ll have to go for Viviani, why else bring him. With Ganna, Tarling and Narvaez I think they got most bases covered. Ben Swift can also slot in somewhere. It ultimately makes them the strongest team for the sprint, if they use all their cards.

Kanter – good and consistent enough to contest for a top-10.

Hodeg – 2023 was a year to forget. Same goes for 2022. We will have to see if he can bounce back.

C. Pedersen – a strong lead-out man getting his own chance. I’m fairly certain he will end up somewhere in the top-10.

Liepiņš – a top-10 for him is possible, he was 6th here in 2023.

Who will win?

The first World Tour sprint in 2024? I’ll take a win for Elia Viviani. With Ganna and Tarling, I see him having the best chances of all at starting his sprint in the front row.

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