Welsford claims Tour of Bendigo crown | Photos

Sam Welsford on his way to victory in the Merv Dean Memorial Tour. Picture: ADAM BOURKE
Sam Welsford on his way to victory in the Merv Dean Memorial Tour. Picture: ADAM BOURKE

Australian cycling star Sam Welsford completed the Bendigo triple crown when he won the Merv Dean Memorial Tour of Bendigo on Monday.

In March, Welsford combined with the Kell O’Brien to win the Bendigo International Madison and in the two year’s previous he won the prestigious Golden Mile Wheelrace.

Now he has Bendigo’s premier road race title as well.

“Always good sensations here in Bendigo. It’s a really good training area for us,’’ Welsford said.

“The Bendigo tour has been really solid. It’s been four stages of on the gas all the way. I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Welsford sealed the title when he was involved in a seven-rider breakaway in Monday’s criterium at the Huntly Livestock Exchange.

With his closest rival Kell O’Brien not in the break, Welsford just needed to stay in the group to win the tour and he succeeded.

Welsford finished fourth in the sprint to the line behind Norwood’s Russell Gill, Brunswick’s Luke Plapp and Bendigo’s Julian Thomson.

The breakaway group finished 49 second ahead of the peleton.

That was enough to give Plapp second place overall – 54 seconds behind Welsford and seven seconds clear of O’Brien.

Jordan Villani was fourth, with Thomson fifth.

Bendigo duo Sam Eddy and Connor Sens rode well over the three days to finish eighth and ninth respectively.

A two-time world champion in the team pursuit, Welsford is Australia’s leading endurance track cyclist.

He said races like the Tour of Bendigo help his form on the track.

“The road and the track compliment each other,’’ he said.

“Doing a lot of road base now will set me up for a good track season next season.

“Eventually, I want to be a road rider… so it’s good to get this under the belt.”

Blackburn’s Harry Morgan won the B-grade tour – 46 seconds clear of Albury-Wodonga’s Robert Young, with Bendigo’s Taylor Anstee a further 26 seconds behind in third place.

Anstee surged into the top three after winning the final stage at Huntly.

Just 19 seconds separated the top three in the C-grade tour.

Albury-Wodonga’s Tom Sharp clinched the title, 12 seconds ahead of Mornington’s Andrew Gynes, with Bendigo’s Spencer Evans third.