17 Jan 2024

UAE’s Mexican star Isaac del Toro announced himself to the UCI WorldTour on team debut in the best possible way at Lobethal on Wednesday.
Del Toro, 20, claimed efex Stage 2 from Norwood to Lobethal to show that he is arguably the most exciting prospect the WorldTour has on its roster in 2024.
“It’s crazy we have leaders in the team, and it was the last chance to make more seconds with the sprint (finish),” del Toro said after he blew the superstars of the WorldTour apart with an attack worthy of an experienced professional.
“I was thinking about attacking and I took it I’ll try to enjoy today.”
Bora Hansgrohe’s Australian gun Sam Welsford wore ochre with pride on Wednesday after he won Ziptrak Stage 1 in the Barossa on Tuesday.
Del Toro is the new race leader and also holds the Zwift Young Rider jersey going into day three. The Mexican has a three-second lead over New Zealand’s Corbin Strong (Israel Premier Tech), who finished second with teammate Stephens Williams third at the death. 
Binian Girway (Intermarché-Wanty) ended the day in fourth place to secure the Ziptrak Sprint jersey for Thursday’s Health Partners Stage 3 from Tea Tree Gully to Campbelltown, with Australia’s nine-time Santos Tour Down Under stage winner Caleb Ewan (Jayco AlUla) claiming fifth in a bunch sprint at Lobethal.   
Australian National Team star Luke Burns snared the efex King of the Mountain jersey.
The 25-year-old, formerly a star triathlete, said he hoped to hold on to the coveted jersey until the very end of Australia’s greatest cycling race on Sunday.
Burns has been racing a bike for a little more than two-and-a-half years.
“My goal is to make it to the pro teams,’’ Burns said.
“I’ve got a lot more potential to grow as a 25-year-old compared to other 25-year-olds that have been in the sport for a lot longer. I did triathlon at a very high level, and it’s helped me progress quickly I would say.
“I might be a chance to pick up more points in the KOM but stages five and six all the GC guys will be up there, and it would be hard to scrape points.
“I’ll try to get a bit of a lead before those last two stages – that would be ideal.”
After a cool start to the day, the race ended with fireworks. Attack after attack came just before the Lobethal finish.
It was just 15C at the Norwood start line on The Parade after yesterday’s 30C heat potentially fatigued some of the riders who left the European winter to be at the summery Santos Tour Down Under.
With WA sprint gun Welsford in the Santos Ochre Leader’s jersey after his empathic maiden WorldTour stage win in Tanunda on Tuesday, most of the peloton eased into efex Stage 2.
Riders from the Australian National Team including Burns and Tristan Saunders took full advantage of a fast and furious finish alongside EF Education-Easypost’s Jardi van der Lee.
They charged up towards Norton Summit to take points in the first efex King of the Mountain at Ashton before applying more pressure on the peloton to react before the first Ziptrak prime at Woodside.
Burns and van der Lee earned critical bonus seconds before del Toro added a one-second bonus to his GC time.
As the race continued to ease towards the Lobethal finish along the three circuits around the Fox Creek climb, sportsmanship came to the fore before the business end of the race.
With Burns and van der Lee more the two minutes ahead of the main peloton the Dutchman was forced to change his tyre.
Burns waited for van der Lee before charging ahead as the peloton closed in fast, with Italian Elia Viviani – a two-time Santos Tour Down Under stage winner – experiencing a mechanical before re-joining the race.
Pre-race sprint favourite Ewan also had a mechanical with about 20km before the finish after the peloton had caught Burns and van der Lee.  



Key points

9.9km: efex King of the Mountain 1 - Stony Rise Road, Ashton (Category 2)
Luke Burns from the Australian National Team became the provisional leader of the KOM jersey despite finishing behind EF Education-Easy Post’s Jardi van der Lee. South Australia’s Tristan Saunders, (Australia) who knows Adelaide Hills roads extremely well, picked up two KOM points at Ashton after the Norton Summit climb. He was followed by teammate Liam Walsh. 

30.7km: Ziptrak Sprint 1 - Onkaparinga Valley Road, Woodside at Bedford Hotel
UAE Team Emirates’ Isaac del Toro showed some good form during the Down Under Classic last Saturday and picked up a valuable one-second bonus as teams produced lead-out trains before Woodside. Breakaway rider Jardi van der Lee (EF Education-Easypost) was first across the line before the Australian National Team’s Luke Burns, 25.    

63.5km: efex King of the Mountain 2 - Fox Creek Climb (Category 2)
The second KOM saw a headwind take the leaders across the line which would have made the experienced sprinters happy. Jardi van der Lee, 22, and Luke Burns’ 3min 21sec gap over the main peloton meant the pair battled for the key KOM points with 78km before Lobethal. Burns kicked hard about 100m from the line and dropped the Dutchman. Burns’ feat meant he will be wearing the polka dot jersey for the Health Partners Stage 3 from Tea Tree Gully to Campbelltown on Thursday. 

71.7km: Ziptrak Sprint 2 - Main Street, Lobethal at Finish Line
In a repeat of the first intermediate sprint breakaway riders Jardi van der Lee (EF Education-Easypost) earned the first of the bonus points ahead of Australia’s Luke Burns. Jayco AlUla’s Caleb Ewan – winner of nine stages at the Santos Tour Down Under – was made to work hard to jag the bonus second with Mexico’s Isaac Del Toro (UAE Team Emirates) ensuring the Australian didn’t have it all his own way.       

98.4km: efex King of the Mountain 3 - Fox Creek Climb (Category 2)
Burns glued the polka dot jersey to his back after winning the KOM again, taking his tally to 23 points. Van der Lee had to settle for second as the pair again sprinted to the line for points.


All the jerseys

Santos Leader’s Jersey – Isaac del Toro Romero (UAE Team Emirates)
efex King of the Mountain – Luke Burns (ARA Australian Cycling Team)
Ziptrak Sprinter’s Jersey – Biniam Girway (Intermarche-Wanty)
Zwift Young Rider’s Jersey – Isaac del Toro Romero (UAE Team Emirates)
Most Competitive – Luke Burns (ARA Australian Cycling Team)


See full race results here.


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