It’s pretty fair to say Richie Porte knows how to ride Willunga Hill. BMC’s Porte won his third straight stage on Willunga and shot up the overall rankings into second place, and the only genuine challenger to Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEDGE) in the General Classification.
Porte won the Tour’s fifth stage by attacking with a kilometre go and found his rivals wanting, no one able to go with the young Tasmanian. With all the major contenders still in the front bunch at the base of the final climb, it needed something special and it was Porte who delivered.
Understandably thrilled with his first win with his new team, Porte said “to be honest I never expected that one. Today the BMC guys were absolutely incredible and they backed me here, which is nice and I have only just started in this team.
“It’s always nice to win in Australia and on top of Willunga for the third time in a row, I am really happy,” added Porte. “The crowds are just incredible, the Australian public just get behind this race so much. It really does feel like riding the Tour de France up this climb, incredible feeling.”
Porte now finds himself just 9 seconds behind Gerrans, a gap that is not insurmountable with one stage left and time bonuses up for grabs, though it’s unlikely Gerrans’ Orica GreenEDGE teammates will let Porte out of their sights all day. Porte did say after the stage that he wouldn’t be chasing time bonuses as the overall win wasn’t his goal, but that could just be a bit of gamesmanship on his part.
Sergio Henao (Sky) tried to go with Porte after his attack but couldn’t quite match him, finishing second on the stage and now has an unassailable lead in the King of the Mountains Classification, while also moving into third place in the General Classification. Michael Woods (Cannondale) also went with Henao and held on for third place.
Gerrans gained the lead in the Sprint Classification; his eighth place on today’s stage earnt him 8 points for a total of 51 which sees him now 5 clear of Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff).
McCarthy has the consolation of still holding the lead in the Young Riders Classification, 8 seconds in front of Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) with Patrick Bevin (Cannondale) in third, 30 seconds adrift of McCarthy.
The Tour Down Under concludes tomorrow with 20 laps of a 4.5km circuit around the streets of Adelaide and the Adelaide Oval. Another Australian winner will be crowned, the only question is whether it is Gerrans, or whether Porte can pull off an upset.