Richie Porte (BMC Racing) finally showed signs of form in Paris-Nice with third place on the uphill finish in Fayence on stage 6. The two-time race winner lost considerable time in the opening two days, scuppering any chance of winning the overall. However, after a top-ten placing in the stage 4 time trial he moved up a gear to finish behind winner Simon Yates (Orica Scott) and former teammate Sergio Henao (Team Sky). He put time into most GC riders, but the aim was to win the stage.
"I gave it my all and came here in a good position," he said as he caught his breath at the top of the final climb.
"I thought when I was riding at the front that they might let me go because I'm not a threat. Sergio Henao (Team Sky) was super strong. It was such a hard day, so I'm happy to rebound.
BMC rode a tactically astute race, throwing Alessandro De Marchi up the road to help form the early break. The Italian and his companion Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo - Vital Concept) were caught with just over twenty kilometres remaining, but the move allowed Porte and his remaining teammates to sit back while Team Sky and Quick-Step Floors controlled the peloton. Nicolas Roche and Amael Moinard supported Porte as best they could on the steep climbs before the finish and put the Australian towards the front of the bunch as they approached the final ascent.
Although Porte accepted that the GC was a lost cause he pointed to the final two stages as further opportunities to attack to win a stage. Along with his two overall titles, he has also won four individual stages in the race. His ride today moved him up to 15th overall, but a stage win would go some way to ending his race on a high note.
"I think that this is a good sign for the weekend," he said before descending to the bottom of the climb and the safety of the team bus.
"Today was such a hard stage that I think tomorrow and the next stage are going to be an absolute war. I think tomorrow suits me better with the longer climbs that will be better for me. We'll see how it goes. The GC is over 100 per cent [ed. for me] but there are still minor placings, so we'll keep plugging away."