Tour Down Under 2017: Richie Porte extends lead with Willunga Hill victory - Road Cycling UK

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Tour Down Under 2017: Richie Porte extends lead with Willunga Hill victory

BMC Racing man closes in on overall victory after winning on Willunga for fourth consecutive year

Richie Porte’s sole domination on Willunga Hill continued, as the BMC Racing man won the Tour Down Under’s fifth stage for a fourth consecutive year to all-but-seal overall victory.

Porte, in the ochre jersey, powered clear of his rivals with two kilometres to go on the climb to record his most dominant victory yet on the ascent.

And, unlike in previous years where he had too much time to make up overall despite winning on Willunga, Porte will win the 2017 Tour Down Under for the first time barring disaster on the final stage – a circuit race in Adelaide – on Sunday.

The 31-year-old has been in dominant form in his home country, and his second stage win means he now leads second-placed Johan Esteban Chaves by 48 seconds overall.

Should Porte, as expected, maintain that advantage on the pan-flat Adelaide circuit, it will be the biggest winning margin at the Tour Down Under since Patrick Jonker’s 2004 win.

Richie Porte won on Willunga Hill for the fourth consecutive year to all-but-seal Tour Down Under victory (pic – Sirotti)

The stage itself saw a fast start to proceedings, before a four-man break eventually went clear – Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Jack Bauer (QuickStep Floors) and Will Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) all booking more time up the road, with Jeremy Maison (FDJ) for company.

BMC Racing set the tempo behind, maintaining a comfortable gap between two and two-and-a-half minutes for much of the stage.

Britain’s James Shaw was forced to abandon on his UCI WorldTour debut, however, as illness took its toll on the 20-year-old Lotto-Soudal rider.

On the first ascent of Willunga Hill, with De Gendt having upped the ante, Clarke was dropped but the other leaders pushed on – the Belgian leading Bauer over the top to bag another 16 points in the mountains classification.

Behind them, Chris Hamilton (Team Sunweb) and Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) shook things up by kicking on the climb, but their advantage never threatened the peloton just behind them.

The three leaders also saw the deficit eaten into on the final lap around to Willunga Hill, with Team Sky trying to set a fast tempo for Sergio Henao and BMC Racing protecting Porte.

The fast tempo accounted for all bar Rohan Dennis of Porte’s team-mates, and – with Bauer, De Gendt and Maison caught and passed – Sky set the tempo on the second climb up Willunga.

Porte leads overall by 48 seconds with just the flat Adelaide circuit remaining – should he hold that lead, as expected, it would be the biggest winning margin in the race for more than a decade (pic – Sirotti)

Kenny Elissonde hit the pace first, before Sebastian Henao put in a dig which actually opened up a small gap behind him.

With the other teams looking around for someone to chase down the move, Porte spotted his opportunity and seized it – using Henao as a carrot to chase, the Australian dropped the hammer.

He caught and passed the younger Henao cousin with ease, and while Rafael Valls (Lotto-Soudal) and Chaves initially held his wheel, Porte was simply too good.

The BMC Racing man’s advantage was 20 seconds at the finish line, with his second stage win of this race teeing up what should be the fourth UCI WorldTour stage race victory of his career.

Santos Tour Down Under 2017: stage five – result

1) Richie Porte (AUS) – BMC Racing – 3.40.13hrs
2) Nathan Haas (AUS) – Dimension Data +20”
3) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-Scott – ST
4) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – UAE Abu Dhabi
5) Jay McCarthy (AUS) – Bora-hansgrohe
6) Nathan Earle (AUS) – UniSA-Australia +23”
7) Rafael Valls (ESP) – Lotto-Soudal – ST
8) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky
9) Robert Gesink (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo
10) Tom-Jelte Slagter (NED) – Cannondale-Drapac

General classification

1) Richie Porte (AUS) – BMC Racing – 18.00.21hrs
2) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-Scott +48”
3) Nathan Haas (AUS) – Dimension Data +51”
4) Jay McCarthy (AUS) – Bora-hansgrohe +54”
5) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – UAE Abu Dhabi +59”
6) Rohan Dennis (AUS) – BMC Racing +1.02
7) Rafael Valls (ESP) – Lotto-Soudal – ST
8) Robert Gesink (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo
9) Wilco Kelderman (NED) – Team Sunweb
10) Nathan Earle (AUS) – UniSA-Australia +1.06

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