Australian cycling’s purple patch continued as Richie Porte of Sky Procycling produced a sensational ride to claim the summit finish atop La Montagne de Lure on Stage 5 of Paris-Nice.
Starting the day 7 seconds behind overall leader Andrew Talansky of Garmin-Sharp, Porte was determined to match the young American as they rode the 14 kilometres of the category 1 climb, but Porte went one better, riding away from him with just over a kilometre left and catapulting himself into the yellow jersey.
Talansky had made sure that Porte knew he was in a battle, attacking him several times on the final climb, but when Porte asked the question, Talansky had no answers and finished 33 seconds adrift. It was a bold ride by Talansky, who had declared himself ‘ready’ for this stage, but Porte’s guile and experience proved too much.
Dennis Menchov of Katusha claimed second spot after he was passed by a flying Porte in the final 500 metres just as it looked as if his attack may have proved successful.
Porte now has a 32 second advantage in the General Classification over Talansky, with Lieuwe Westra of Vacansoleil-DCM a further 10 seconds back.
The final stage is a time-trial and given his proficiency at in the individual discipline, if Porte can match his rivals on tomorrows penultimate stage which includes category 1 climbs up Côte de Cabris and the Col du Ferrier, Richie Porte will win Paris-Nice in 2013.
Earlier on the stage, Radioshack-Leopard Trek’s Jens Voigt gave his legion of fans a reason to cheer as he joined in a four man breakway, before riding away from his companions at the start of the final climb.
Although always likely to fail, there is no reasoning with Voigt when he’s in one of his moods, and the grimaced face of the German was in lead for most of the climb.
Talansky retains his white jersey as leader of the Mountains Classification and his third place on the stage was enough to propel him into the green jersey as leader in the Points Classification.
With a mountainous stage tomorrow, it looks likely that the green jersey will go to one of the climbers, with Sylvain Chavanel of Omega Pharma-Quick Step 11 points behind Talansky and Westra just 16 back.
Johann Tschopp of IAM Cycling remains in the polka dot jersey as leader of the Mountains Classification.
Tomorrow’s stage from Manosque to Nice is a difficult one, 220kms long and five categorised climbs, two of which are category 1. The finish is 70 kilometres from the summit of the final climb, so if one of Porte’s rivals wants to steal the yellow jersey of his back, it’s going to have to be a bold attack.