Ineos Grenadiers Jhonatan Narvaez issued a huge warning to Santos Tour Down Under GC contenders when he claimed the Down Under Classic on Saturday night.
However, the 26-year-old Ecuadorian Giro D’Italia 2020 stage winner predicted that new WorldTour rider, Mexico’s Isaac del Toro is the man to watch during the WorldTour stage race.
Del Toro was impressive on his debut for UAE Team Emirates winning three of the four preme sprints before Narvaez earned the major prize on the Adelaide city street circuit.
“He (del Toro) is a GC contender,” Narvaez told Seven Plus.
“It was a really fast circuit.
“It was important to never lose the motivation to win the race.
“To start the season like this is really nice.”
While Narvaez celebrated a perfect victory, Caleb Ewan’s absence from the race was a major concern.
Australia’s sprint sensation, was a surprise omission for his return to Team Jayco AlUla.
Ewan was named on the official 140 riders start list before the men’s WorldTour teams blew out the 2024 preseason cobwebs on the 1.35km circuit.
However, the five-time Down Under Classic champion wasn’t on the start line after he claimed the national criterium title earlier this year.
Ewan, 29, was also a no-show at Friday night’s team presentations before team officials declared they hope to have the eight-time stage winner of the Santos Tour Down Under ready for the Ziptrak Stage 1 Tanunda to Tanunda.
With Ewan out of contention, the peloton eased into race mode on Wakefield Street, headed east for a left turn at Pulteney Street, onto Flinders Street, towards King William Street before another left turn towards the finish line.
Riders and officials were probably enjoying the cooler conditions of Saturday night racing but as dusk approached blustery winds tested the WorldTour riders’ bike handling skills before conditions calmed.
Down Under Classic Prime sprint results:
10 minutes: Ziptrak prime sprint #1: Isaac del Toro (UAE Team Emirates)
20 minutes: Ziptrak prime sprint #2: Guillarme Boivin (Israel-PremierTech)
30 minutes: Ziptrak prime sprint #3: Isaac del Toro (UAE Team Emirates)
40 minutes: Ziptrak prime sprint #4: Isaac del Toro (UAE Team Emirates)