Richie Porte utilised a trademark attack on stage three of the Tour Down Under to explode into the race lead.
The Trek-Segafredo rider fired away early on the final short and steep Torrens Hill Road climb to the line in Paracombe, immediately pulling out a big gap and clinging on to stage honours as his rivals reacted too late behind.
Porte’s move, reminiscent of his famed attacks on the Willunga Hill stage of the race, saw him finish five seconds ahead of Robert Power (Sunweb) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), as the Australian now moves into the race lead with a six-second gap over Daryl Impey in second.
How it happened
Stage three of the 2020 Tour Down Under has been described as the Queen Stage of this year’s event, with an undulating course over 131km from Unley in central Adelaide to Paracombe just outside the city.
The day started with a climb immediately from the flat, an uncategorised 6.4km ascent at 6.2 per cent average.
Then the bulk of the stage was relentlessly undulating, with no more categorised climbs on the course but countless rises that would wear down the legs.
The peloton would then approach the decisive final climb after around 130km of racing – only 1.2km-long but at a daunting 9.3 per cent average, the gradient was expected to be too great for the sprinters, making this the day we could see the general classification start to take shape.
As the peloton rolled out from Unley, a breakaway formed in the first 2km with three riders making their escape – Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ), Guillaume Boivin (Israel Start-Up National) and Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r La Mondiale).
Early in the day the trio pulled out a four-minute advantage over the bunch, but the general classification teams were determined to keep them on a tight leash, so Mitchelton-Scott and Trek-Segafredo contributed to the chase and pulled the break back down to 2-15 with 60km to race.
Inside 20km, Boivin cracked and Scotson kept the pressure on and quickly lost Bouchard as well.
Despite a brave effort, Scotson was caught around 9km from the line, setting up a tense and rapid run to the final climb.
Mitchelton-Scott led the bunch the whole way in to the final, but it was Marco Marcato from UAE Team Emirates who attacked first as soon as the peloton turned right onto the climb.
Marcato pulled out a big gap and held, but Trek-Segafredo quickly put their young climber Juan Pedro López onto the chase with Porte right on his wheel.
Porte jumped out of the saddle and launched his attack with around 1km to race, rapidly pulling away from Rohan Dennis and Team Ineos who led the peloton.
After gaining an enormous gap with the initial attack, Porte continued to power towards the summit.
Robert Power, Simon Yates and George Bennett were the only riders able to respond, forming a small chasing group but struggling to make up ground on Porte.
With 500m to race, Porte hit the relative respite of the flat section and still had the gap, which he carried to the line to raise an arm in victory.
Yates put in a burst of speed in the final 200m but it was only enough to slightly narrow Porte’s time advantage. Power took second at the line with Yates finishing third, five-seconds behind the winner.
Reigning champion Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) finished in the chasing group to stay within range of the overall lead.
Tour Down Under 2020, stage three: Unley to Paracombe (131km)
1. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo, in 3-14-09
2. Robert Power (Aus) Sunweb, at 5s
3. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott
4. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Team Ineos
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
7. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Ineos
8. Simon Geschke (Ger) CCC Team)
9. George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma, all at same time
10. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at 13s
General classification after stage three
1. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo, in 10-10-24
2. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott, at 6s
3. Robert Power (Aus) Sunweb, at 9s
4. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 11s
5. George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma, at 14s
6. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 15s
7. Simon Geschke (Ger) CCC Team
8. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Team Ineos
9. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Ineos, all at same time
10. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at 23s