Team Sky's all-or-nothing tactics fail to unseat Richie Porte in Tour Down Under

Sergio Henao's bid to overthrow Richie Porte during the Tour Down Under's key climbing stage failed to make an impact

Kenny Elissonde on stage five of the 2017 Tour Down Under

(Image credit: Graham Watson)

Sergio Henao and Team Sky lost out on an “all or nothing” bid for the overall podium at the Tour Down Under on Saturday.

The Colombian climber seemingly couldn’t keep with former teammate Richie Porte (BMC) on the hilltop finish in Willunga, which the latter claimed to all but secure the leader’s jersey.

Henao entered the WorldTour opener considered a genuine threat to Porte’s publicised campaign. A double puncture damaged his chances on the first hilltop finish on Wednesday, but many thought the 29-year-old could make-up time in the penultimate queen stage.

>>> Richie Porte sets up Tour Down Under overall win with emphatic victory on Willunga Hill

Team Sky – until Porte’s attack some two kilometres from the finish – had been tactically brilliant. The outfit positioned Henao well at the base of the ascent, with the peloton hurting under the pace set by Ian Stannard and then late entry Kenny Elissonde at the beginning of the climb.

Henao and his cousin, Sebastian both made the final selection. The latter got a gap on the group but as he looked back for his team leader instead saw Porte make his move a bit earlier than usual.

Richie Porte attacks on stage five of the 2017 Tour Down Under
(Image credit: Watson)

“The guys rode perfect, Richie just had better legs than everyone,” Sky sports director Brett Lancaster said. “We gave it everything and didn’t pull it off.”

Henao, who was third overall last year behind Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) and Porte, conceded 33 seconds to Porte and now sits 11th overall, one minute and six seconds down with Sunday’s final criterium stage remaining.

“Team Sky made that really hard there at the bottom, which kind of played into my hands a bit,” Porte said post-race.

“But at the end of the day I’ve shown I’m in good form. To win two stages here is just an incredible way to start the year. It’s been a hard week of racing. They were good, they pushed me.”

>>> Tour Down Under 2017: Latest news, reports and info

Onus for a stage win will fall back on Sky’s sprinter Danny van Poppel on Sunday.

“Danny has been close a few times so we’ll see what he can do,” Lancaster said. “It seems Caleb [Ewan] is a bit unstoppable at the moment with his form, but we’ll give it everything.”

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1