Del Torro
Isaac Del Toro has taken out the second stage of the Tour Down Under and is the overall leader. Image by HANDOUT/SANTOS TOUR DOWN UNDER
  • cycling

Rising star Del Toro wins Tour second stage, Ewan fifth

Roger Vaughan January 17, 2024

Isaac Del Toro has confirmed he is a shooting star in professional cycling with his audacious solo stage win at the Tour Down Under.

Four years after celebrated teammate Tadej Pogacar made his professional cycling debut at the Adelaide race, the 20-year-old Mexican has made a much bigger first impression.

The UAE Team Emirates rookie won stage two on Wednesday in the Adelaide Hills town of Lobethal with a perfectly timed solo attack inside the final kilometre.

He leads New Zealander Corbin Strong (Israel Premier Tech), second on the stage, by two seconds.

Del Toro is the second-youngest stage winner in Tour history, just 21 days older than Australian star Michael Rogers was in 2000.

He is the first Mexican to win at road cycling’s highest level since 2009 – and Del Toro is just two days into his professional career.

He is the first Mexican to win a stage at the Tour or lead the race.

Last year Del Toro won the Tour de l’Avenir in France, a race that is often a stepping stone for the sport’s biggest stars.

Pogacar won the Tour de l’Avenir in 2018 and made his professional debut at the Tour Down Under the following year, but his best result was eighth in a stage.

By 2020, the Slovenian had won the first of his two Tour de France titles.

In short, the future looks very bright for Del Toro.

The softly spoken Mexican could barely speak immediately after the finish, partly because he was hyperventilating from his stage-winning effort, but also out of excitement.

“I don’t know what to say – so much,” he gasped.

Later, when asked to describe his emotions given his dream start to life as a pro cyclist, Del Toro simply grinned shyly and shrugged.

“I try to enjoy today and that’s all. I don’t know – it’s too much for me,” he said.

But Del Toro already knows the game, saying he is definitely not the team’s No.1 leader at the Tour.

Asked who is their main rider, he replied: “Maybe, in the next stage, you know.”

Del Toro held off the fast-charging peloton at the finish, saying: “The last kilometre felt like five.”

Australian Caleb Ewan (Jayco AlUla) finished fifth, marking a return to form for the sprint ace after his frustrating fourth place in stage one.

 Australian Caleb Ewan finished fifth in the second stage of the Tour Down Under. Image by Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS 

Ewan’s lead-up to the Tour was marred by illness, but he made it over the Fox Creek climb that punctuated the closing kilometres of the stage to be among the stage contenders.

Teammate Luke Plapp, the three-time national road champion, launched an attack inside the last 10km, but in-form Ecuador rider Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers) went with him.

Plapp had to shut down the move, mindful that Narvaez would have beaten him at the finish and gained crucial bonus seconds with the stage win.

But there were strong signs for Plapp that Jayco AlUla are primed for big results in the weekend’s decisive days, with hilltop finishes at Willunga and Mt Lofty.

“It’s game on for Saturday, Sunday now,” Plapp predicted.

The weather for the 141.6km stage from suburban Norwood was much milder than Tuesday’s furnace conditions in the Barossa.