Porte confirms early season form with Paris-Nice victory

Australian continues good start to 2015

Richie Porte repeated his 2013 heroics on the Col d'Èze to seal stage and overall success in Paris-Nice, continuing his return to form after a disappointing 2014 season.

Porte started the final day time trial 36 seconds in arrears to Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) but by the first time check, the Team Sky rider was the virtual race leader with the quickest time on the road. From there, all Porte needed to do to claim stage and overall honours was to stay upright unlike the previous day, which he did with aplomb to take the double win.

"For me, it feels a little bit sweeter than the last one," Porte told letour.fr. "It was hard. They threw everything at us in the last stage. So to win on the last day on Col d'Èze is just massive."

Porte had occupied second place on the general classification since winning atop the Croix de Chaubouret on stage four, one second behind Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick Step) only for late drama on stage six to almost erode any chance for overall victory.

Along with teammate Geraint Thomas, Porte hit the deck on the slippery roads on the descent of the final climb into Nice in the attempted chase of Gallopin, who was riding into the race lead. Porte remained second on GC but his one-second deficient had ballooned out to 36 seconds, although the Australian national time trial champion proved himself more than capable of overhauling the time gap to reiterate his return to form.

"We threw time away yesterday, when we were in a fantastic position, to both crash like this," Porte said of the previous day’s stage. "There was too much tyre pressure, it was not ideal. It was like riding on ice.

"36 seconds is a lot, but I was reasonably confident this morning," Porte added of his approach to the time trial. "Credit to Tony but I hoped he would be tired from his performance yesterday. I ride this climb so many times in training. I think I probably rode it faster in training than I did today. I'm a little bit sorry for Geraint, who really deserved to be on the podium."

Having picked up a stage win at the Tour Down Under and finished second overall there, Porte also won a stage in the Volta ao Algarve and his Paris-Nice efforts have seen him quickly record six victories by the early season. So far it's his best-ever start to a season and already his most successful as a professional as he prepares for a tilt at the Giro d'Italia in May.

"For me to win this way is just a fantastic feeling," said Porte. "We have a fantastic team. We had a roller-coaster season last year. I think we're back now.

"I'm really in the best form of my life right now," said Porte, who is five kilograms lighter than last year. "This is massive to win for the second time a race you'd been watching and to do it twice. I had a hellish season last year but I'm back. It's great for my confidence ahead of the Giro. I know I'll have a great team to support me. I'm doing Volta a Catalunya, Giro del Trentino then the Giro."

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