Cycling: Kiwi rider Ally Wollastan makes statement with stage win on Tour Down Under

Ally Wollastan celebrates her victory.
Ally Wollastan celebrates her victory. Photo credit: Twitter/@tourdownunder

Kiwi cyclist Ally Wollaston has kicked off her 2024 campaign in style, bolting to a dramatic victory in the opening stage of the Tour Down Under.

In temperatures hovering around 40 degrees celsius in east Adelaide, Woollastan - riding for the AG Insurane-Soudal team - defied the scorching heat with a perfectly timed sprint finish to claim her maiden victory on the Women's World Tour.

The NZ champion says she was pleased she could resist the urge to launch into her sprint early, holding back before blitzing local heroes Georgia Baker and Sofia Beritzzolo to take the overall lead in the southern hemisphere's biggest and most prestigious road race.

"There was a plan today, I backed myself in the sprint," Wollaston said after claiming the leader's and sprint jerseys.

"I've been doing quite a lot of track work with the New Zealand girls, so I knew I had a bit of fire in the legs, I just had to make it to the finish. The team did a great job of looking after me today as well.

"It was a really long run in to the finish after we turned left, and it was a really technical run in too. We just had to be patient.  

"Previously, I have got a little bit too excited and taken on the sprint too early, so I'm really proud today of just being patient and backing myself and going at the right time."

The Aucklander's performance will certainly leave an impression with Olympic selectors, as they look to fill two spots for the women's road race in Paris.

Wollastan was a non-travelling reserve for the 2020 Tokyo Games. She was selected to represent New Zealand at last year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham but a crash in the Tour de France Femmes meant she was unable to compete.

The stage - which ran from Hahndorf to Campbelltown - took the peloton around 2.5 hours to complete on a gruelling day's riding.

The second of three stages takes place on Saturday afternoon (NZ time) with a 104.2km stage from coastal Glenelg to Stirling, before the race finishes with the daunting Willunga Hill on Sunday.

"I'll have to go home and think about tomorrow now, but I'll try and hold onto the jersey as long as I can," Wollastan added.

"I'll race attentively, and just not be a passenger in the race. I'll really fight for it. I race my best when I'm enjoying my racing."