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Sam Welsford celebrates three wins from three chances, and on his 28th birthday. The big Australian is in flying form on home turf

Sam Welsford may have lost his Bora-hansgrohe lead-out men, Ryan Mullen and Danny van Poppel, in the final dash to the line at Tour Down Under today but the confusion couldn’t stop the big Australian.

“It’s pretty special to get a win on my birthday,” Welsford said of claiming a third win on the day he turns 28-years-old.

“For a minute I almost forgot it was my birthday because I was so into the race. The boys did an amazing job looking after me.”

He powered to his third victory, from three chances, on a day when all three of his team’s key personnel looked like they were toying with the opposition.

Ireland’s Mullen pulled so hard on the front as second last man he opened a gap for a few moments while Van Poppel was looking around for Welsford, yet still managing to boss the front.

And when Welsford stepped up to pull the trigger, his sprint was so impressive he, again, had time to ease back and have a glance around him as he hurtled across the finish line in Port Elliot after 136.2km of racing.

Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) placed 2nd while Lars Boven (Alpecin-Deceuninck) rounded out the podium.

Though Ineos Grenadiers worked on the front in the final in a bid to lead out Elia Viviani, the Italian failed to fire and trailed home in 19th place, just one ahead of Caleb Ewan (Team Jayco AlUla).

Today’s stage marked the end of the sprinters’ chances, with the climbers now set to come into the frame as the general classification will be settled over the weekend. Tomorrow comes the big finish on Willunga Hill, followed by Sunday’s finale on Mount Lofty.

Going into those stages, it is stage 2 winner – 20-year-old Mexican Isaac del Toro (UAE Team Emirates) – who holds the race lead. Though he has just one second now over Girmay, del Toro has an advantage of 11 seconds over most of the climbers.

And that includes Ireland’s Archie Ryan (EF Education-EasyPost). He placed 27th today, on the same time as Welsford and is now 27th overall, some 11 seconds off the race lead.

While Ryan is in his first race as a World Tour rider, and is under no pressure, the weekend suits him very well. If he can find his legs and has the poke to throw in some of his exciting attacks, anything could happen.

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