Team Sky’s dominance of the 2013 season continued today on the Col d’Eze.
Richie Porte succeeded Bradley Wiggins as the Paris-Nice champion by replicating the Londoner’s final stage time trial victory, as Chris Froome pulled on the maglia azzurra at Tirreno-Adriatico.
The Australian, a key lieutenant to Wiggins in the latter’s historic Tour de France victory last year, stepped into the limelight with a commanding performance today, winning his second stage of the race and concluding the most important triumph of his career.
Porte said: “I can’t believe it. The first Aussie to win such a big race and it’s just an honour to have my name up there with Bradley Wiggins, Tony Martin and all the big champions.
“I woke up this morning and I knew that I had good legs. After the armchair ride that I got from the team yesterday – as well as on stage five and for the entire week – I knew I’d be in good shape. The guys were just incredible this race.”
He ruled out aiming for leadership of the team at a Grand Tour this year, and instead pledged his support to Wiggins and Chris Froome at the Tour de France.
But the 28-year-old, a valued team-mate of Alberto Contador at Saxo Bank before he joined the British team, raised a flag for leading Team Sky at next year’s Giro d’Italia, which will start in Belfast.
The Col d’Eze time trial is conducted on a constant climb that begins in Nice at 32 metres above sea level and ends 9.3km later, some 469 metres higher. The gradient peaks at 8.3 per cent.
Porte’s victory on the stage and in the general classification came at the expense of Garmin-Sharp’s Andrew Talansky. The 24-year-old American lost the lead of the race to Porte on stage five and today finished in second place, some 23 seconds behind the Australian.
Another young rider produced a strong showing to round out the podium. Nairo Quintana, a 23-year-old Columbian riding for Movistar, was just four seconds slower than Talanksy.
Unlike Porte and Talansky, however, Quintana’s stage placing was not mirrored on the general classification. Instead, he ‘swapped’ places with AG2R-La Mondiale’s Jean-Christophe Peraud, whose fourth place on today’s stage moved him to third overall.
Porte will return to action at the Criterium International, a two-day stage race in France won last year by Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) on Saturday March 23, where he is likely to lead the team.
Paris-Nice 2013 – stage seven – result
1) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky – 19.16
2) Andrew Talansky (USA) – Garmin-Sharp +23″
3) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +27”
4) Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) – AG2R-La Mondiale +32”
5) Tejay van Garderen (USA) – BMC Racing +52”
6) Simon Spilak (SLO) – Katusha +55”
7) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – Lampre-Merida +1.00
8) Michele Scarponi (ITA) – Lampre-Merida +1.03
9) Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep +1.05
10) Jon Izaguirre (SPA) – Euskaltel-Euskadi +1.06
1) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky – 29.59.47
2) Andrew Talansky (USA) – Garmin-Sharp +55”
3) Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) – AG2R-La Mondiale +1.21
4) Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:44
5) Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) – Omega Pharma-Quick Step +1.47
6) Simon Spilak (SLO) – Katusha +1.48
7) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – Lampre-Merida – 1.54
8) Lieuwe Westra (NED) – Vacansoleil-DCM +2.17
9) Andreas Klöden (GER) – RadioShack-Leopard +2.22
10) Peter Velits (SVK) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep +2.28