ADELAIDE, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s Richie Porte won his first Tour Down Under after finishing safely in the peloton on the final 90-kilometer stage through the streets of Adelaide on Sunday.
Porte, who seized the ochre leader’s jersey after the third stage, led the race from that point on and virtually assured himself of the title when he won his second stage on Saturday.
The Tasmanian took a lead of 48 seconds over Colombia’s Esteban Chaves into the final stage and his BMC Racing team controlled the peloton throughout, ensuring there was no chance of a breakaway spoiling Porte’s party.
The stage, 20 laps of an Adelaide street circuit, was won by Australia’s Caleb Ewan in a mass sprint, with world champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia finishing second and Slovenia’s Marko Kump third.
It was Ewan’s fourth stage win of the week and confirmed his position as one of the rising stars of world sprinting.
However, the day belonged to Porte, who had finished second at the season-opening event the previous two years.
The 31-year-old’s BMC Racing team is setting the Tasmanian up for this year’s Tour de France and sent a strong team to Australia to support him in the opening World Tour event of the year.
He never looked like losing once he rode away from the field on the climb into Paracombe on Wednesday and then underlined his dominance when he did the same to win at the top of Willunga Hill on Saturday.
Crashed in Rio
“The Tour Down Under was good for me this year, two hilltop finishes,” Porte said.”It’s just incredible to come here and win after being so close the past two years. After crashing in Rio and injuring myself quite nastily (where Porte broke his scapula) it wasn’t too hard to be motivated for this race,” he said.
Read more at http://www.velonews.com/2017/01/news/porte-claims-tour_428901#jMGZAQZbqLy0JTL6.99
“I had a good break at the end of last season and have come back refreshed physically and mentally. To win this race means a hell of a lot.”
Ewan will also look to the big races in Europe after outsprinting the field four times this week. Sagan tried to overpower the diminutive 22-year-old on Sunday but was unable to make an impression, finishing runner-up to the New South Welshman for the second time this week.
Ewan’s Orica-Scott team has kept him away from the Grand Tours to enable him to develop, but he said he was ready for bigger challenges.
“It’s great to get the season off to a good start, it really gets the momentum going to Europe,” he said. “I’ll probably have a bit of a break now and get ready for the European season.”
Belgium’s Thomas De Gendt ensured he took the King of the Mountain title when he broke away from the peloton to claim the points on the 10th climb up Montefiore Hill, while Ewan took the sprint jersey.
1. Caleb Ewan (AUS/Orica-Scott) 1hr 55 min 28 sec
2. Peter Sagan (SVK/Bora-Hansgrohe) same time
3. Marko Kump (SLO/UAE Abu Dhabi) s.t.
4. Danny van Poppell (NED-Team Sky) s.t.
5. Sean De Bie (BEL-Lotto Soudal)
6. Lorrenzo Manzin (FRA-FDJ) s.t.
7. Koen de Kort (NED/Trek-Segafredo) s.t.
8. Jasha Sutterlin (GER/Movistar) s.t.
9. Nathan Haas (AUS/Team Dimension Data) s.t.
10. Jay McCarthy (AUS/Bora-Hansgrohe) s.t.
1. Richie Porte (AUS/BMC Racing) 19hr 55min 49sec
2. Esteban Chaves (COL/Orica-Scott) at 48 seconds
3. Jay McCarthy (AUS/Bora-Hansgrohe) +51
4. Nathan Haas (AUS/Dimension Data) same time
5. Diego Ulissi (ITA/UAE Abu Dhabi) +59
6. Rohan Dennis (AUS/BMC Racing) +1.02
7. Rafael Valls (ESP/Lotto Soudal) s.t.
8. Robert Gesink (NED/Lotto-NL-Jumbo) s.t.
9. Wilco Kelderman (NED/Team Sunweb) s.t.
10. Jhonatan Restrepo (COL/Katusha-Alpecin) +1:04
King of the Mountain
1. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/Lotto Soudal) 35pts
2. Richie Porte (AUS/BMC Racing) 32pts
3. Esteban Chaves (COL/Orica-Scott) 22pts
1. Caleb Ewan (AUS/Orica-Scott) 63pts
2. Danny van Poppel (NED/Team Sky) 51 pts
3. Nathan Haas (AUS/Team Dimension Data) 46pts