Richie Porte stood on the Santos Tour Down Under podium for the fourth time in his career after securing second overall on the same time as race winner, Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott).
There was no change to the podium after the traditional stage six city circuit, won by Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) in a bunch sprint, with Porte missing out on becoming the first back to back champion on a count back of previous stage results which saw Impey claim the ochre jersey.
Multiple attacks early in the stage saw a two-rider breakaway go clear with more than two minutes’ advantage during the 90km stage, but the sprinters’ teams were too strong and brought the race back together with three, of twenty, laps to go.
The battle for the general classification played out yesterday on the queen stage which saw Porte dominate the iconic Willunga Hill climb to claim his fifth consecutive victory.
Porte’s performance was backed up by solid teamwork throughout the week, including that of 2015 Santos Tour Down Under winner Rohan Dennis whose strength on Willunga Hill set the stage for Porte’s victory.
Dennis finished in 30th place on the General Classification, 1’46” behind Impey, which was enough to claim the Tanya Denver trophy as the best-placed South Australian for the fourth consecutive year.
Porte and Dennis will wrap up their Australian season at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race next Sunday.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“Obviously, I would have liked to be first but with hindsight, Daryl Impey did a fantastic race. He rode smart all week, he’s obviously in great form. So, to win Willunga for a fifth time in a row feels pretty good. Coming back as the defending champion, it would have been nice to win again but I think my team did all that we could to try and win the race. We down swinging yesterday. All things considered, I’m pretty happy to be second here with a stage win as well.”
“I’m looking forward to getting back to Europe and really getting my season started. I’m super motivated for this year. I was last year too but I think this year, everything is looking up.”
“My form is good and I can take confidence out of what I did on Willunga Hill yesterday and in general climbing-wise. I was also surprised how calm I felt, not stressed about position, which is usually good sign. I could sit back and it wasn’t an issue when something went wrong, and if it did, I could fix it quite quickly. So, that gives me quite a bit of confidence.”
“I did some really good pre-season work with my trainer Neal focusing on longer kilometers and not as much intensity. I’m recovering better and when you feel fresher, you’re calmer in the peloton and not so stressed. So that’s a good sign.”
Fabio Baldato, Sports Director:
“We came here to try to win the race like last year. Looking at the stages before we started I was afraid that a good sprinter could stay close on the two climbs and not lose too much time, and would be able to win the race. Daryl Impey was good and was second three times and got those bonus seconds and then only lost eight seconds on Willunga Hill. I’m happy for the result and I think we did everything possible. This week’s result is a good sign for Richie and his confidence after the Tour de France crash. He had good form and good numbers and this is only the first race of the season. It was important to start on the right foot and have the stage victory.”
“All of the riders gave their maximum, especially Rohan Dennis yesterday. He sacrificed his result to make the victory possible for Richie and the team, and that is really the thing that I bring home from this week. Simon Gerrans is a great captain this week and he is a great addition to the team. He can keep everyone focused and give the right directions in the race. Overall, I’m really happy with the team’s work.”