It’s a home country race that’s difficult to win for Richie Porte, but it didn’t stop him from taking victory in the final stage atop Willunga Hill for a record sixth straight year. It also launched him from 16th place to second overall – perhaps the best finish the Tasmanian could attain with time bonuses once again making the difference in the six-day WorldTour race.
“It’s a hard race for someone like me to win, one hilltop finish and that’s it. But we came here with Trek-Segafredo – my new team – and the boys were absolutely fantastic the whole week, and they put me in good position again today. Hats off to Daryl Impey for the win, but to win six times on Willunga is a great feeling.”
Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) used his sprinting prowess to gain precious bonus seconds that secured him his second consecutive Santos Tour Down Under title, while race leader Patrick Bevin (CCC) succumbed to the injuries he sustained in yesterday’s stage five crash and faded out of the picture the first time up Willunga Hill.
Porte, knowing that the overall victory would take a miracle, focused on the stage, and knew precisely when and where to launch his winning move on Willunga Hill. When he made the attack, only Wout Pauls (Sky) answered, albeit briefly. Porte opened the gap he needed and headed for his sixth straight victory on Willunga, as Poels and Impey held strong behind to complete the final podium.
“The stage was probably easier for me than it ever has been because I was in a good position. But when Kenny Ellisonde did a fantastic ride there for Wout Poels, that was hard to have to take it up myself. I had to gauge my effort. To be honest, I thought I’d had it there, but when I heard (director) Kim Andersen on the radio telling me that everyone behind me was suffering too, it gave me a second wind. But I tell you what, the last 300 meters were probably the longest 300 meters, it really hurt. But it was a sweet victory.”
Trek-Segafredo came into the Tour Down Under with a team focused on one goal: Richie Porte and the overall win. While the overall victory eluded Porte again, finishing runner-up for the second straight year, the team never relented throughout the six stages, racing each day to keep Porte protected and in the GC fight.
“It’s always good to start with a new team, and they have faith in you like that,” continued Porte. “But here, you have to climb better than the sprinters, and then sprint better than the climbers – it’s not a race that really suits me. It did two years ago with the Paracombe climb as well. I think it’s just nice to get a victory, the team was absolutely fantastic out there today.”
“It was a really enjoyable week. Luca Guercilena, the boss (Trek-Segafredo’s General Manager), didn’t put any pressure on me. They were resigned to the fact it was going to be a hard race to win, especially when they are going for bonus sprints like that yesterday, then it’s not an easy one for me.”