Tour Down Under: Even the sprinters couldn’t follow Isaac del Toro, says Girmay

Young climbing star takes peloton by surprise with rapid stage 2 attack on the flat

Clock10:27, Wednesday 17th January 2024
The sprinters in full flight couldn't close the gap to Isaac del Toro on stage 2 of the Tour Down Under

© Sprint Cycling Agency

The sprinters in full flight couldn't close the gap to Isaac del Toro on stage 2 of the Tour Down Under

Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) has praised Isaac del Toro’s (UAE Team Emirates) stage-winning acceleration on stage 2 of the Tour Down Under, saying even the sprinters in the bunch couldn’t match his move.

Del Toro, who is the winner of the Tour de l’Avenir and ostensibly a GC climber, has been showing off his impressive accelerations and sprints in Australia, finishing third in the Down Under Classic before stage 2’s exploits.

Read more: Tour Down Under Stage 2: Isaac del Toro stuns the sprinters with a last-minute solo victory

On Wednesday, the small Mexican rider launched in the final kilometre with a move that saw him hold off fast men like Girmay, Corbin Strong (Israel-Premier Tech) and Caleb Ewan (Jayco AlUla).

“He did a really good job, at the last moment and at the right time. I think he also had the legs to do that, because no one could follow him, even the sprinters couldn’t catch him,” Girmay said at the finish.

“I think he showed us how strong he is today.”

Read more: Isaac del Toro: Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana inspired me to follow my dream

The sheer speed and power of Del Toro’s acceleration was the talk of the bunch at the finish, with several teams and riders expressing their surprise about where the 20-year-old came from and how he managed to hold on to the line.

The only riders who perhaps weren’t surprised, then, were his own teammates, who have witnessed first-hand just what Del Toro can do. As well as winning stage 2, he had been working throughout the race, skilfully leading Finn Fisher-Black out to claim bonus seconds on stage 1, before sprinting for the bonuses himself on stage 2.

“I knew from the last few days that he has a pretty crazy kick on him,” Fisher-Black said after stage 2, praising his new teammate. “You could hear him coming round the side of me on that last little kick, at twice the speed. He could have freewheeled to the line and he still could have won.”

Despite being outdone by Del Toro on stage 2, Girmay’s third- and fourth-placed finishes on stages 1 and 2 saw him move into the points jersey on Wednesday evening, which he took as a positive but had been hoping for more.

“I always like to wear the points jersey, because this is what I work for, so I’m happy today to switch [jerseys],” Girmay said.

“I’m a little bit disappointed [about the sprint], because I tried to survive all the way to the finish line, but unfortunately in the last 500 metres I hit [Julian] Alaphilippe’s foot, and then my wheel was not steady anymore so I lost a bit of speed because of that. Then I couldn’t do my sprint because of that, but to be honest today [Del Toro] was the strongest I think.”

Now in the leader’s jersey, the sprinters will be hoping Isaac del Toro turns his attention to Willunga Hill, Mount Lofty and the chance to show off his climbing on the weekend, rather than causing them any more upsets.

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