Isaac Del Toro: 'It's a dream come true to be racing for UAE Team Emirates'

In the first column of the 2024 season from the UCI World Tour's top-ranked team, the Mexican rookie outlines his ambitions and reflects on his historic victory at last year's Tour de l’Avenir

Isaac Del Toro became the first Mexican cyclist to win the Tour de l'Avenir after his victory in last year's race. Photo: UAE Team Emirates
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Excitement, determination, and a hunger to get going. That’s how I’d sum up my emotions on the eve of the Tour Down Under – my first UCI World Tour race as part of UAE Team Emirates.

I’m feeling in really good shape on the back of our team training camp in Spain, which allowed me to ride with my new teammates for the very first time and start to develop those crucial connections and relationships, both on and off the saddle.

I couldn’t be more excited to start my first race in Australia and am completely focused on learning as much as I possibly can, soaking up each and every experience I have, as well as showcasing my skills and ability on the bike.

To be a part of the No 1 team in the world, riding alongside guys I was watching on television just a few months ago, is truly a dream come true. I feel very proud to be welcomed into this great family. I still have to pinch myself to remind me it’s really happening, but I’m super excited to give my best for this team in every single race in the years to come.

With the race about to kick off, it gives me a chance to think back to where it all started for me. My parents have been the biggest influence on my career. I remember my father suggesting taking up cycling, so my brother and I would be out on the bike all the time, having lots of fun and making progress as we learned more and more about cycling and gained more experience.

We were – and still are – extremely competitive, so we started winning local races before stepping up to race at a national level in the bigger races. I remember just having lots of fun each weekend, producing positive results, and starting to really love that winning feeling.

I am a person who doubts himself a lot, so I began working really hard to ensure I just focus on the things that I could control and doing those to the best possible level. This is an attitude I still have to this day, and hopefully, this will allow me to keep developing as a rider as I strive to reach the top of the sport.

One of the biggest setbacks of my career was back in 2022 when I broke my femur in a nasty crash. I remember hating the feeling of being off the bike and having to recover slowly.

When I eventually returned, I think in hindsight I pushed too hard too quickly and ultimately felt like my body was shutting down because it wasn’t ready to compete back at my top level. It was frustrating, but I learned how to deal with this and gradually built my level back up. I hope this experience helps me for the rest of my career.

My fondest cycling memory to date is winning the Tour de l’Avenir in 2023 whilst wearing the Mexican jersey. I was in good shape and in good form when we arrived at the race, so it was about having confidence in myself and trusting the plans and processes that we had in place.

Beating riders who were a part of professional teams, some of whom have raced in Grand Tours, was a massive confidence boost for me and truly a dream come true to win there. I felt so happy to be able to be able to give something back to all those people who supported me up to that point, and representing Mexico on top of the podium was so special.

Looking ahead to 2024 as a member of the best team in the world, my focus is on building things up slowly as I look to keep learning from my teammates and coaches as much as I possibly can. My calendar this year will have a few World Tour races but other than that it will be a number of smaller races which is probably more suited to developing and getting used to this level of racing.

In 10 years' time, I hope to be enjoying myself and demanding as much of myself as I am today. I’m desperate to get going, and I can’t wait to perform on the world stage with the UAE flag on my chest.

Updated: January 17, 2024, 6:15 AM