Fri, Jan 24, 2020 - Page 8 News List

Porte ascends to the lead in the Tour Down Under

AFP, ADELAIDE, Australia

Australia’s Richie Porte celebrates after winning stage three of the Tour Down Under from Unley to Paracombe in South Australia yesterday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Australian Richie Porte yesterday conquered a brutal uphill finish to claim the third stage and the race leader’s jersey in the Tour Down Under.

Porte, the event’s winner in 2017, made the decisive move for his Trek-Segafredo team in the season’s opening UCI WorldTour event, to power up the torturous hill climb to the Paracombe finish in the fire-ravaged Adelaide Hills and win the stage by a commanding five seconds.

Australia’s Rob Powers (Team Sunweb) just held off Britain’s Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) for second place, with Australia’s Rohan Dennis (Team Ineos) finishing fourth.

South Africa’s Daryl Impey — chasing a third straight Tour Down Under title for Mitchelton-Scott — finished sixth to lie six seconds behind Porte in the general classification with three stages left to Sunday’s finish.

“Hats off to the boys,” Porte said. “They did a really good job in controlling it.”

“I felt good at the bottom of the climb and got a bit of a gap there. It was just a shame there was such a headwind in the final bit, because we could have really done some damage,” he added.

It was a lung-busting surge by Porte up the 1.7km final ascent, leaving his rivals trailing in his wake.

Impey will need to win time bonuses in the remaining stages for a third straight title.

“It was always going to be a challenge getting close to the guys up here, but to finish in that group at the end, I was pretty chuffed,” Impey said.

“I think we’re in a great situation. Obviously we’d like to be in the [leader’s] jersey, but there’s still lots of bonuses to come and lots of opportunities in the race,” he added.

It was a courageous effort by Yates to get on to the stage podium after crashing heavily and injuring his left knee in Wednesday’s second stage and he occupies fourth overall, 11 seconds behind Porte.

“It was alright,” Yates said. “It was a little bit stiff in the morning, but once we got into it, it started getting better and better.”

Dennis, the individual world time trial champion, said his fourth placing was encouraging for the remainder of the race.

“It was a confidence boost ahead of [the] Willunga [final hill stage]. I really had to play mind games with myself and I really had to look after myself before that final climb,” Dennis said.

“I had [teammate] Dylan van Baarle in front protecting me, but Richie kicked on the climb and he was just too good,” he added.

The stage went through the charred Adelaide Hills area, where hundreds of properties were destroyed by raging bushfires last month.

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