Richie Porte had a target on his back when he lined up for the final 115km stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné in the yellow jersey and was put to the test as soon as the flag dropped at KM 0.
With four tough climbs on the menu, including the final hors categorie Plateau de Solaison summit finish, Porte’s rivals attacked him on the ascent of the Col del des Saisies and from there it was a battle for Porte to hold onto his race lead.
Strong attacks from the General Classification contenders isolated Porte from his teammates and forced Porte to respond to every attack.
Various moves went and were pulled back by Porte’s group until the race came back together after the first two climbs, when a 22-rider group was formed.
In the final 40km Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) attacked and the duo went clear to establish a lead of more than 1’30”.
Eventually, the leading duo was being chased by a seven-rider group, and behind Porte formed the third group on the ascent of Col de la Colombiere.
The first two groups joined together and behind, Porte was chasing at just over one minute back. Jakob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team) and Dan Martin (Quickstep-Floors) attacked again and lead the race up the final Plateau de Solaison climb.
Behind, Porte was gaining time and slowly started to catch the riders in front, dropping everyone he passed as he fought to hold onto his yellow jersey.
Fulgsang dropped Martin and went clear to take the stage win. Porte was chasing the 1’15” advantage that he started the day with over Fulgsang and finished exactly 1’15” back on the stage in seventh place.
The ten second time bonus Fulgsang scored in the stage win meant he edged Porte off the top step of the podium, and Porte was forced to settle for second place.
Although disappointed to lose the yellow jersey on the final day, Porte takes confidence from his third UCI WorldTour stage race podium of the season and an incredible display of form across the eight days of racing.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“I think I showed in the end that I’m going well and I’m on track for July. It’s bitterly disappointing to lose it by such a small margin but credit to Jakob Fulgsang. I think I was up against it from KM0 as it seems there were a few guys who preferred to see me lose the race and they lose their podium as well. I don’t know what you can really learn from a stage like that. I guess that’s racing but bring on July.”
“I found myself in a position with no teammates, isolated. I could have done with a couple more teammates up there today. It was me against everyone there for a little bit. You don’t forget that for July. It was a solid race. I’m happy for Jakob, he’s a great rider.”
“I can definitely take confidence out of the race in general. I know my form is there and of course it would have been nice to finish it off today, but it’s definitely good signs for the Tour de France.”
Fabio Baldato, Sports Director:
“I think it was clear that Richie was the strongest rider on the climbs at this race. Sometimes you need to have it all come together and today it didn’t. The team has been good all week but today we missed one guy to stay with Richie on the climbs. It was a pity because we had five guys at 20 seconds for a lot of the race and they couldn’t quite make it back to Richie.”
“The other GC guys wanted to make the race hard to isolate Richie and make it hard for us to come back. They did that well. Finally, Richie was alone. He was riding intelligently to follow second on GC but we saw that there were riders who didn’t want to see us win. It was a good race from Fulgsang and Astana, they took advantage of this. I’m really sorry for Richie because I think he deserved to win. But, we take a lot of good things out of this week and we’re excited for the Tour de France in July.”