- - Tour Down Under 2024 Stage 2

Tour Down Under 2024 Stage 2

photo credits @ WTF

Isaac Del Toro (UAE Team Emirates) claimed stage 2 of the Tour Down Under today, after the Mexican rider launched a late attack during a chaotic final kilometer to seize the win in Lobethal. 

“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.”

The peloton was fanned across the road with 13km to go as it began the final ascent, with Visma-Lease A Bike, Jayco-AlUla, the Australian National Team and Julian Alaphilippe’s Soudal-Quick Step team visible at the front.

Soudal-Quick Step set the pace on the steeper slopes of the climb, as riders started to get dropped. 

Luke Plapp (Jayco-AlUla) attacked with 8.5km remaining, Alaphilippe on his wheel before breaking-off 200m later. 

Plapp accelerated again, with only Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers) able to follow the newly crowned Australian national champion, as overnight leader Sam Welsford (Bora-Hansgroghe) was dropped from the back of the bunch. 

Del Toro and Finn Fisher-Black (UAE Team Emirates) moved off the front of the bunch, trying to close to Plapp and Narvaez, who appeared to remonstrate on the road. The pair were caught with 5.8km remaining as the peloton regrouped. 

Israel-Premier Tech drove the pace with 4.6km to go. A flurry of attacks and chasing continued until Del Toro made his winning move with one kilometer to go. 

 Meanwhile, Bora Hansgrohe’s Sam Welsford wore ochre with pride on Wednesday after he won Ziptrak Stage 1 in the Barossa, with Del Toro becoming the new race leader with a three-second lead over New Zealand’s Corbin Strong (Israel Premier Tech), who finished second with teammate Stephens Williams third.
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.   
Elsewhere, 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.
 “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 a 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 in 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 tire.
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 favorite Ewan also had a mechanical with about 20km before the finish after the peloton had caught Burns and van der Lee.


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