Richie Porte (BMC Racing) took his fifth consecutive win on Willunga Hill on today’s fifth stage of the Santos Tour Down Under as Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) took the overall lead. Porte now sits in second overall on the same time as the new race leader.
Going into the stage, Porte was among 32 riders within 14 seconds of race leader Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) which left the race wide open.
Seven riders went clear early on – Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek-Segafredo), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Nicholas Dlamini (Dimension Data), Scott Bowden (UniSA-Australia), Zakkari Dempster (UniSA-Australia), Nuno Bico (Movistar Team) and Mads Würtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin) – but didn’t gain an advantage of more than five minutes on the 151-kilometre stage from McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill.
The last of the escapees, De Gendt, was caught with 9 kilometres as the race approached Willunga Hill. On the lower slopes of the climb, Sagan cracked and dropped from the diminished lead group.
Inside two kilometres remaining, Porte attacked as team-mate Rohan Dennis led the group. Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe) was the only rider able to react but he was dropped as the pair went under the flamme rouge.
Porte went on to take the win as Impey finished second, 8″ down. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Dimension Data) finished third on the stage and now sits third overall with one stage remaining.
Richie Porte – “I tell you what that was the hardest one to win so far. I think it was such a hard lead in there at the bottom when Education First put it into the gutter. I felt great and the guys looked after me all day but it hurt so much. We talked about it this morning with guys like Simon Gerrans. He has been a fantastic addition to our team. I couldn’t look back, I just had to go. Of course, you look back a bit and I could see that Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe) was strong to start with. I think this stage is much better for me than it is for him so I just stuck in. I must admit with 300 meters to go, I almost stopped. Maybe I went a bit too hard. Last year winning with the ochre jersey was special but this is up there as one of the most special too.”