Tour Down Under: Porte takes overall victory but loses Willunga crown

WorldTour rookie Matt Holmes survives from breakaway to out-kick Porte on Willunga, Impey cracks and falls off GC podium.

Photo: Getty Images

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Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) may not have won the stage to Willunga Hill at Santos Tour Down Under Sunday, but he was amply rewarded with the overall title.

Porte was beaten to the line by British WorldTour rookie Matt Holmes (Lotto-Soudal) and placed second on the stage. However, Porte’s attack on the final ascent of Willunga Hill was enough to crack overnight GC leader Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), who lost 29 seconds on the stage, leaving Porte to take the GC spoils. The win was Porte’s first Tour Down Under title since 2017, having lost out to Impey in the past two editions of the race.

Impey’s time loss meant he fell off the podium altogether, with Diego Ulissi (UAE-Team Emirates) and Simon Geschke (CCC Team) taking second and third. American Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team) took the King of the Mountains jersey.

“To win the race again is a fantastic feeling,” Porte said.

“It would have been nice to have been King of Willunga for the seventh time, but I will take the ochre (leader’s) jersey any day. At the end of the day, we didn’t win the battle, but we won the war.”

Holmes (right) was able to hold Porte’s pace on the final climb of Willunga and kick past the Australian. Photo: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

The sixth and final stage of the race was shaped by a large breakaway that included stage-winner Holmes. The group of around 20 went away early in the race and soon built a five-minute gap, putting pressure on Trek-Segafredo and Mitchelton-Scott to chase hard and allow Porte and Impey to fight for the GC honors.

“It was a little bit panic stations there in the middle of the stage [behind the breakaway],” said Porte. “There were times when I thought maybe the general classification was over and done with because it was a big group up the road. But credit to the guys, almost single-handedly, they brought that all back.”

Going into the final climb of Willunga, all the break had been caught except 26-year-old Holmes and a handful of other survivors.

Porte kicked hard out the GC group at the base of the hill to immediately create a gap, with Impey unable to respond. Porte’s attack allowed him to bridge up to and then distance the remaining breakaway riders except for Holmes.

Holmes was able to hold on to Porte’s pace once the Australian had caught him. The Brit chose his moment with 150 meters to go as the climb steepened to kick hard and distance Porte, winning the stage by three seconds. Manuele Boaro (Astana) finished the stage in third having also been in the breakaway.

Impey crossed the line 29-seconds back, having looked off the pace all day.

“I was trying to limit the damage and stay on the podium,” Impey said. “I knew I wasn’t on a good day today and I struggled on the bottom slopes. It’s been quite a busy week. We gave it our all. We’re happy with the performance but obviously disappointed that I didn’t make the podium. That’s just how it goes. I’m not making excuses, Richie [Porte] was just very strong.”

Rob Power (Sunweb) started the day in third overall, but also fell off the pace and lost his spot on the GC podium, leaving Geschke, who finished seventh on the stage, to move up to third overall.

Stage 6 results:

  1. Matt Holmes (Lotto-Soudal): 3:24:54
  2. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo): +0:00:03
  3. Manuele Boaro (Astana): +0:00:04

GC after stage 6:

  1. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo): 20:37:08
  2. Diego Ulissi (UAE-Team Emirates): +0:00:25
  3. Simon Geschke (CCC Team): +0:00:25

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