The problem with high expectations is that however narrowly you miss them, it ends in disappointment. This was the fate that befell Oscar Onley (dsm-firmenich PostNL) and Isaac del Toro (UAE Team Emirates) on Sunday, with the pair producing standout performances at the Tour Down Under over the past week, but neither winning overall.
Onley, 21, and Del Toro, 20, won their first WorldTour races this week, showcasing not just their potential but their present ability, but they could not match Stevie Williams on stage six, as the Welshman won the stage and the overall.
Despite their happiness at winning stages of the race, the denouement ended in a little dismay, even though Del Toro finished on the podium and as the best young rider. Onley lost time on Mount Lofty, finishing fourth, but still taking home his best WorldTour GC result.
"In a few hours I’ll be happy with it, but for now it’s pretty disappointing," Onley said. "But I think when I look back over this week I’ll be happy. I’ve taken a big step I guess.
"I’ll go over the race today and see what I could have done better, and in the week in general there’s things I can take away. Maybe I just wasn’t on my best day, I don’t know to be honest, I just couldn’t follow."
Ironically, it was his fellow disappointed rider, Del Toro, who was responsible for ruining Onley's day.
"Del Toro attacked first, and then the guys that went with him were on his wheel and I just couldn’t follow his wheel," he said. "Then the other guys in my group tried to make me do the work, which I get, but I was just empty, I couldn’t really do anything."
Del Toro sounded similarly down after the stage, despite a breakthrough week - his first WorldTour race, his first win, and his first podium. Not bad for a neo-pro January, but he still apologised to his teammates as they rolled up to him post-stage.
"It was hard to be honest," he said. "In the last part I tried for the team, they all helped me into the last corner. I did my best and can do it better than today. I tried, and the first part and the second part I enjoyed, but in the sprint, I can do it better. I’m happy but at the same time not too much, but it’s good.
"It’s more that I won. But after yesterday, because I did not do my best climb, it is good for me but I like to give my 100% for the team. You have six guys working for you, and 100 guys working off the bike, and for me it’s not really nice. Today I tried to win the stage or for the seconds, but I can do it better. I’m happy but not too much. But I try to enjoy."
Both are young, though, and both can build on their impressive weeks. If anything, the climbs of the Tour Down Under weren't hard enough for a pure climber like Onley. Bigger things loom.
"It [the climb] was probably a little bit too short and wasn’t really steep enough," he said. "I’ve got some more exciting races coming up that maybe can suit me better, so I’ll focus on them."
Similarly, Del Toro has more to focus on in the coming months and years.
"I think [my performance] was really good," he said. "It’s like a dream for me and it’s the first experience, and I enjoyed it a lot. It’s one of the biggest dreams. It’s a lot.
"I don’t feel pressure, because my teammates are really good with me. They care about me, they always stay talking with me about this. There’s not a lot of pressure, only responsibility to do my work well and try to do my best, and my teammates are really good with that and they help me a lot with this situation."
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