Team Sky’s Richie Porte celebrated a solo victory on the Willunga hilltop finish at the Tour Down Under today.
Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) seized the ochre jersey back from the shoulders of Cadel Evans (BMC), who now trails his compatriot by a second heading into tomorrow’s criterium finale.
Porte made his winning move on the second lap of the Willunga Hill circuit, some 2km from the finish, and never looked back, racing up the ascent with the support of a roaring home crowd.
“This result is more than I hoped for. It was a very stressful day with crosswinds but I had my team doing incredible work for me,” Porte said.
“Ian Stannard, Bernhard Eisel, Luke Rowe – the Classics guys – I just had to sit in their back pocket all day.”
Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) pipped Gerrans on the line, 10 seconds after Porte, for runner-up.
Gerrans began the stage trailing Evans by seven seconds in the general classification having made up time, via intermediate bonuses, in Friday’s lumpy fourth stage to Victor Harbor. BMC performance director Allan Peiper was mindful of Evans’s long-term goals, including the Giro d’Italia, post-race.
“I think it will be pretty difficult for us to take seconds back tomorrow but you never know how it is going to unfold. Being a criterium sprint finish, two bonus sprints along the way, it will be diffiuclt for Cadel to get those seconds back because obviously Gerrans will be marking him,” Peiper said.
“At the moment he’s second overall, he’s won a stage, the team’s ridden fantastically. It’s only January and his main goal for the year is May so we’re on trajectory and putting everything into perspective. Unfortunately he’s been knocked off the top perch but in a big picture it’s all going to plan.”
The popular Jens Voigt (Trek), Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma – Quick Step), Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) and Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha) comprised the main break that escaped in the first of three laps of a 39.7km circuit.
The break record a maximum time gap of around five minutes, which was quickly reduced as the peloton mobilised ahead of the first lap of the separate Willunga Hill circuit that featured the 3km ascent (average gradient 7.5 per cent).
Lobato and Ignatyev lost contact leaving Voigt and Trentin to cross the first King of the Mountain (KOM) marker together before being reeled in not long afterwards.
The main favourites were in the front group that hit the bottom of the Willunga climb for the second and last time. Evans followed a brief move from Wesley Sulzberger (Drapac) and Porte responded before making his stage winning attack.
“I wasn’t exactly surprised to drop Cadel Evans off,” Porte said. “I was disappointed after the Corkscrew climb I started badly positioned. Not taking anything away from Cadel, I could have played a little bit better.
“Winning here means everything for me. Sky is such a great team. It’s a great way to repay them for the belief they have in me.”
The 16th edition of the Tour Down Under concludes tomorrow with an 85.5km street criterium.
Andre Greipel will be looking to add to his stage win tally in what has been a successful outing for the Lotto Belisol team with Adam Hansen sewing up the KOM jersey today. Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), who won the prelude criterium, should also be in the mix. It will also serve as an opportunity for touted young talent Caleb Ewan, 19, (UniSA-Australia) to be in the mix again.
Tour Down Under 2014, stage five: McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill, 151.5km
1. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky 3-42-20
2. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 10 secs
3. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 14 secs
5. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
7. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 17 secs
8. Egor Silin (Rus) Katusha
9. Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol
10. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 21 secs
Overall classification after stage five
1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 18-02-19
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 1 secs
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 5 secs
4. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 10 secs
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 7 secs
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin at 27 secs
7. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orcia-GreenEdge at 34 secs
8. Adam Hansen (Aus) at 34 secs
9. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 37 secs
10. Egor Silin (Rus) Katusha
Richie Porte attacks
Richie Porte wins
Simon Gerrans back in the race lead
Tour Down Under 2014: Latest news
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Reporting by Sophie Smith
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Photography by Graham Watson