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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, January 24, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools. - John Muir

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Tour Down Under Stage Three reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Richie Porte's Trek-Segafredo team:

If there was any hint of Richie Porte feeling the weight of home-country pressure, he certainly didn’t show it as he flew up the steep climb to Paracombe to claim the win and the ochre leader’s jersey in Stage 3 at the Santos Tour Down Under.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte is the new leader of the Tour Down Under. Sirotti photo

“Firstly, the team had a fantastic day. I have to take my cap off to those boys; they put all their faith in me today. They did a really good job of controlling,” said Porte. “To take another victory on a stage like this is a great feeling.”

The Trek-Segafredo team rode the front for a big part of the 131-kilometer stage and positioned Porte in the front into the right-hand turn of the finish climb.

“The strategy was to have as many guys up there into the bottom, and they did a super job,” continued Porte. “Some of these younger guys are prepared to take much bigger risks than us older guys, it was a hectic run-in to the climb, but the guys put me in such a good position.”

Trek-Segafredo neo-pro Juan Pedro López then upped the pace with Porte on his wheel.  It was all Porte needed.  When he accelerated, no one responded.

“López did a fantastic job. I felt good at the bottom of the climb and got a bit of a gap there. It was a shame it was such a headwind in the finale as I think we could have done some real damage, ” explained Porte.

Porte now leads the race with a small six-second lead over Daryl Impey and he was quick to point out that the race is far from over.

“Daryl is still the man to beat, I think. Historically this has been the queen stage, but two more stages before Willunga – the race is not over yet. There’s time bonuses on the road as well, and I expect that Mitchelton will go for them.

“I had to go when I went even with the headwind – there was nothing else you could do but get a decent gap. I would have liked to have taken a little more time on Daryl, and I think I lost a bit of time there [when it flattened] in the last 300 meters.

“But you have to take the victories when you can, and I will savor this one. I am happy to get the win today for the team. The thing is I felt good, and that bodes well for the next few days.”

2017 was the last time the Santos Tour of Under visited the Paracombe climb, and it was Porte who won the tough uphill finish and also went on to win the overall.

“Yeah, I won in 2017,” said Porte, “and also back in 2015 when Cadel Evans and myself were sort of looking at each other and Rohan (Dennis) came from behind and smacked us and won the stage and the Tour, so to win again this year is a sweet feeling.”

If six consecutive wins make one a King of Willunga, can two straight wins, even three years apart, lay claim for Porte being the Prince of Paracombe?

We think so.

Here's what second-place Robert Power's Team Sunweb had to report:

The third day of action saw the peloton faced with the finish to Paracombe, which featured a short but steep climb in the finale. The last two times that the finish was used, in 2015 and 2017, the winner of the stage went on claim the Ochre jersey and win the race overall at the end of the week; so it would be a day all of the GC contenders marked in their road books before the start.

A breakaway of three riders established itself early into the stage and the race settled into a familiar pattern, with a few teams controlling the gap. The breakaway’s advantage reached a maximum of over four minutes but as the peloton entered the last 50 kilometres they were slowly brought back and the catch was made at nine kilometres to go.

The bunch charged down the descent towards the final climb, with the team working well to move climbers Jai Hindley and Robert Power towards the head of the race.

Once the bunch made the turn onto the foot slopes of the climb the pace remained high and the attacks flew. An early counter attack was brought back before eventual stage winner Porte made his move. Power was attentive at the front of the chase group and launched his own counter attack before settling into the wheels with around 500 metres to go. Coming towards the line, he surged around Yates, taking a fantastic second place finish: a result that sees him move up to third place on GC.

Robert Power

Robert Power takes second.

“I worked really hard in the off season so I knew I was coming here in good form. All the guys did awesome today.” beamed Power at the finish. “Jai had a crash yesterday so said for me to just have a go for it today on the climb and it was pretty tough going up Paracombe. The boys did a really good job to set me up and I felt pretty fresh at the bottom so I just tried to do the best I could from the bottom to the top of the climb. I wasn’t sure if Richie was going to blow up when we turned left into the headwind but he hung on, it was a strong ride so fair play to him. It’s still a long race and Richie looks good, but we’re going to give it a crack in the next stages and all the boys are motivated for it.”

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts added: “It was really windy today and there was even a bit of rain this morning but it dried up for the stage. It was relatively calm in the peloton until the final circuits where there was a lot of stress in the bunch; it was a difficult circuit to hold position on. The guys did a good job to set up Jai and Rob towards the final climb. Jai suffered a little bit after his crash yesterday and Rob was feeling really good. He’s had a go at it and took a great second place on the stage and it puts us into a position now to fight for the podium at the end of the week.”

Third-place Simon Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team had this to say about the stage:

Tour de France stage winners Simon Yates and Daryl Impey have finished third and sixth respectively on the crucial third stage of the 2020 Santos Tour Down Under.

An uncertainty to even start the stage after a nasty crash yesterday, Yates’ knee improved throughout the day to be able to feature on the final climb.

Touted as one of, if not, the most crucial stage for the general classification, Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) took the upper hand with the stage victory. Impey now sits second overall, six second adrift, and Yates fourth, 11seconds behind. Mitchelton-SCOTT also has Lucas Hamilton in 10th at 23seconds.

Three riders formed the day’s breakaway and rode out to an advantage of around three minutes.

Mitchelton-SCOTT contributed to the chase with Trek-Segafredo, largely through the work of Jack Bauer.

As the race approached the final 10km, Michael Hepburn also added power to the chase and the last survivor of the breakaway, Miles Scotson (FDJ), was caught with 8.8km remaining.

Mitchelton-SCOTT remained on the front of the bunch, through the valley and towards the last turn onto the final climb, courtesy of Luke Durbridge and Cameron Meyer.

On the final climb the first move was made by UAE Team Emirates, but it was the attack by Porte that did the damage.

Behind, Yates took up chase and closed significant ground in the final meters before being pipped on the line for second, whilst Impey also rode strongly to finish in the same small group at five seconds.

Daryl Impey:
“For me personally, I think I had a good race. It was always going to be a challenge getting close to the guys up here, but to finish in that group at the end, I was pretty chuffed.

“I was kind of in the wind the whole time. I battled near the bottom slopes and I regained a bit of composer near the top and just gave it everything I could to the line.

“That being said, I think we’re in a great situation. Obviously we’d like to be in the jersey but there’s still lots of bonuses to come and lots of opportunities in the race.”

Simon Yates:
“It (my knee) was alright. It was a little bit stiff in the morning and it was a good job that we didn’t have a quick start up the highway there. But once we got into it, it started getting better and better.

“I just did the best I could (up the final climb). I could see Impey was close, so I was half doing a job for him and half for myself.  Chapeau to Richie though, he showed again on these short little climbs he is a nudge above. 

“I think Willunga suits me more than today. I don’t think I’ve ever won a three minute climb before, add a 0 on the end to make it 30minutes and that is better. It will also come down to what we do as a team so we review today and go from there.”

Matt White:
“We had to see how Simon went during the night and warming up this morning and for us it was a big bonus that his pain was bearable today.

“Richie is in pole position. But we’ve been in this situation before, Daryl is only at six seconds so it means we have to win time bonuses.

“It’s doable. It’s doable because Daryl has improved on Willunga and there’s a lot of wind predicted for the next couple of days so it’ll make things pretty tricky I think.”

Here's the report from Rohan Dennis' Team INEOS:

Rohan Dennis and Dylan van Baarle moved into the top 10 overall at the Tour Down Under as Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) won the first summit finish on stage three to move into the race lead.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis finishes stage three.

Dennis and Van Baarle finished fourth and seventh respectively as Porte attacked on the final climb into Paracombe which saw him claim the ochre jersey at the halfway point of the race.

Porte timed his attack to perfection, with none of the other contenders able to react to his change of pace with 1.2km remaining, though Van Baarle and Dennis worked well together to reduce the gap, both coming in five seconds behind the Trek rider, placing them eighth and ninth in the general classification and both now 15 seconds behind Porte.

Earlier, Guillame Boivin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ),  and Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R La Mondiale) were in a day-long break that stayed clear until the final part of the race, with the trio reeled in slowly, with Scotson the final rider caught with just under 10 kilometres to go.

This brought the GC teams to the fore, with Team INEOS well-placed as the decisive turn into the final climb saw the gradient kick up significantly which immediately saw the peloton split. Porte was then led out on the climb by a teammate as the wind swirled, and he attacked to take the race lead.

There was a trip to the podium for Pavel Sivakov, as he took the lead in the best young rider classification and will wear the white jersey on stage four.

Rohan Dennis:
“It was a confidence boost ahead of Willunga. I really had to play mind games with myself and I had to just try to save energy where I could, take the smooth lines on the road and really look after myself before that final climb.

“I had Dylan in front, protecting me, but Richie kicked on the climb and he was just too good. We did bring him back, but hopefully we can bring him back more on Willunga.

“I think with finishes in Murray Bridge and Victor Harbor [on stages four and five] the wind could be a big factor and the ochre jersey is still up for grabs for Daryl Impey with bonus seconds available tomorrow and the next day. Though it will come down to a really big showdown on Willunga as normal.

Dylan van Baarle:
“I felt pretty good all day, we came to the front pretty late so we could stay safe before the climb. I maybe went a little bit too hard at the start of the climb, so when Trek picked up the pace I was already on the limit, then Richie went and I couldn’t follow him.

“I rode tempo for Rohan so he wasn’t in the wind and then pushed as hard as I could until the finish. It’s nice for us to have two cards to play, the goal for me was not to lose time and that’s what I did.

Jay McCarthy's Bora-hansgrohe team sent this:

The third stage of the Tour Down Under from Unley to Paracombe traversed a distance of only 131km, but featured a steep ramp over the final kilometres. BORA - hansgrohe rode in support of Jay McCarthy, but unfortunately the Australian crashed on the descent 5km out from the finishing line. Although he was able to continue the race, he lost time in the GC and is now out of the running for the overall victory. In the final steep ascent, R. Porte launched a successful attack and took the stage win.

From the finish line:
“I was involved in a crash yesterday, and it’s disappointing to have hit the deck again today. We thought that we had a good chance on these two stages, and the team worked for me well on both days, so this is very disappointing. I went down on the descent about 10km ahead of the finish line, and it was quite a heavy crash. I managed to cross the finish line with Erik, but several minutes in arrears. I have a lot of wounds and abrasions, and we will know more when we do an assessment at the hotel later today.” - Jay McCarthy

“The crash occurred in the finale at high speeds, and such incidents can be very dangerous. According to initial examinations, Jay has quite a lot of wounds, abrasions and contusions. We will find out further details at the hotel following a more intensive check." - Jan-Niklas Droste, Team Doctor

“This stage was actually quite a good one for Jay, and so the whole team worked to always keep him in a good position. We were able to save energy during the stage and wanted to be among the first riders heading into the last 20km, as we knew that it would be tricky and fast over that section. Unfortunately, Jay lost contact with his teammates about 20km before the finish line, and then tried to catch up with them again. But he crashed about 12km before the finish and fell at quite high speeds, which means he was out of the running for the stage victory. With our strategy focusing around Jay, we had no other rider who was able to mix it up out front. As of today, we’ve lost our chances for a result in the overall standings and it’s really a shame for Jay and the whole team. We’ll now have to re-focus ourselves on attempting to pull out a good result on one of the other stages over the next few days.” - Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

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