Porte Crowned King of Willunga Hill21. January 2017, Willunga Hill (AUS) — Road Team
Richie Porte has continued to re-write Santos Tour Down Under history with his fourth consecutive win on Willunga Hill, with a stunning solo attack on the final ascent of the climb.
Porte crossed the line with a 20-second advantage on Nathan Haas (Team Dimension Data) and Esteban Chaves (ORICA-Scott), to extended his lead to 48 seconds over Chaves in the General Classification.
The penultimate stage of the Santos Tour Down Under was the final battle for the General Classification contenders and with Porte holding a 22-second advantage before the stage, the battle for the ochre jersey was far from over.
A four-rider breakaway went clear soon after the McLaren Vale start and built a steady advantage over the BMC Racing Team-controlled bunch.
Three remaining breakaway riders remained in front on the first ascent of Willunga Hill but will 10km to go the reduced peloton was closing in.
At the bottom of the final ascent it was a small group of riders left with Porte joined by teammate Rohan Dennis. As riders began to drop, Porte attacked with 1.7km to go and managed to accelerate clear of his rivals and take the solo win for the fourth time in his career.
Porte’s win was enough to secure the King of the Mountain classification, with just one stage remaining, and Rohan Dennis remains in sixth on the General Classification.
The Winner’s Interview with Richie Porte
Richie, you’ve won on Willunga Hill for the fourth consecutive year. How does it feel?
“To win the stage like that is great. I get the accolades up there on the podium as the winner, but I can’t say enough for my teammates. Each and every one of them put me in a great position today and it’s just nice to finish it off. With one day to go I’d love to win this race. I’m so happy.”
How was it on the final climb?
“It was the hardest climb up Willunga Hill that I’ve had so far. I didn’t want to go so early but I didn’t think they would attack so early on Willunga Hill. I was in a world of pain there. But the other guys were more stuffed than I was so I think that was the perfect moment to go.”
With one day remaining you have all but wrapped up the ochre jersey.
“Tomorrow’s not a procession. I’m in a good position and I think I can stay out of trouble. I just want to finish it off tomorrow. I’ve always wanted to win this race since I raced it with UniSA. I’ve said it before, I’d love to have my name up there.”
How confident were you ahead of today’s stage?
“It’s been a hard week of racing and they [my rivals] were good. They pushed me. Team SKY made that really hard at the bottom which kind of played into my hands a bit. At the end of the day obviously I’ve shown that I’m in good form. To win two stages here is just incredible. This is not an easy climb so to win it is great for the morale. For me the biggest goal this year is July with the Tour de France.”
Sports Director Fabio Baldato:
“Firstly, Richie was amazing and strong at this moment. The team really sacrificed themselves for him, all of the guys. When you have a strong leader ready to win then the guys can give extra, more than 100%. In this situation the team was really motivated. First Ventoso who rode the first 100km, and then Miles on the approach to the climb, and then Danilo, Amael, Damiano. It was Rohan who gave the extra power that we needed for the final. Rohan did an amazing job on the climb. So thanks to the whole group for the spirit they had and racing together like that.”
“With a big advantage we are confident that we can race calmly and controlled, but we won’t relax until the race has finished tomorrow.”
Santos Tour Down Under Stage 5
McLaren Vale > Willunga Hill (151.5km)
Top 3: 1. Richie Porte, 2. Nathan Haas, 3. Esteban Chaves
BMC Racing Team top 3: 1. Richie Porte, 12. Rohan Dennis, 50. Damiano Caruso.
BMC Racing Team Flickr Gallery
See photos from the race.