It isn’t even the end of January and already Team DSM has accumulated three wins, all packed into little more than 24 hours after Sam Welsford scooped up two stages in a row at Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina while in between Marius Mayrhofer sprinted to victory at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
The team, which was still looking for its first win of the season into April of last year until Welsford delivered at the Tour of Turkey, has stepped into the season on an altogether more prolific footing in 2023 after the squad and two of last year’s new recruits launched into the year firing on all cylinders.
“The boys were so good in the last lap again and looked after me so well,” said Welsford after on Sunday adding the stage 7 win at Vuelta a San Juan to his stage 6 victory. “We hit the last kilometre and we had five guys left; it is really incredible how well drilled we are coming into the end of this week. This is super special for me and the team.”
“Doing it once is already nice, but doing it again, with the guys winning in Australia too, is even nicer and just shows what we are capable of as a team.”
Welsford’s first victory had come in the hours before his teammates over the other side of the world, in his home nation, were setting off to take on the 176km WorldTour Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Mayrhofer said he was watching his teammates win live before heading off to the start in Geelong. It was then just hours later when he went out and gave himself and the squad another reason to celebrate.
“In Down Under it was always a bit blocked and I couldn’t really focus on my sprint so I thought today there was this little downhill before 300m to go so I thought I would just build up as much momentum as I can,” Mayrhofer told reporters after receiving his wave shaped trophy by the waterfront in Geelong . ”At 400m to go I just started to sprint and then I focussed on being as small as possible and produce as much power as I could and I just went full gas to the line. I was just hoping that nobody could overtake me.”
And nobody could, not even the speedy Caleb Ewan (Australian National Team) or a determined Michael Matthews (Jayco-AlUla), which meant the German secured his first WorldTour victory ever at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and added a second entry into the early season results tally for Team DSM in 2023.
“It’s great to see that we can win in Argentina and also here and it’s a great day for our team,” said the German rider, who exploded with emotion after the win, with his visiting parents were on the sidelines to witness.
Both Mayrhofer and Welsford may have stepped up as WorldTour professionals with Team DSM in 2022 but they are from very different backgrounds and at different stages in their career. The German has followed a road pathway from early on, moving onto the WorldTour squad from the development team.
“I’m still 22 and it’s a great win for me but still we want to keep the pressure low and perform as good as we can and we see,” said the rider, who has already ticked off one of his major objectives for the year – a win.
The 27 year old Welsford, however, is no stranger to the pressure of performing at the top level in cycling, it is just that until last year his focus lay on the track rather than the road which is often a more common pathway into the sport for Australian riders. He has won three world titles in the team pursuit as well as a rainbow jersey in the scratch race and claimed Olympic Games bronze in the pursuit in Tokyo and silver in Rio. The Australian is now ready and prepared to chase that level of success on the road as well.
“It was super special to win here yesterday and even more special to win here today,” Welsford told reporters in San Juan on Sunday. “I had motivation and confidence to be there with the fastest guys in the world, really good process and a really good work ethic towards these two wins.”
“I’ve had some success on the track in the past and now to go over to the road and to sprint on this high level is a good experience. Since I’ve made the transition to road with DSM, they’ve had full belief that I could become one of the fastest sprinters in the world.
“It’s my third win, and I think there are many more to come.”