Henao came into the key stage to Willunga with a point to prove after losing time on the stage to Paracombe. Even though he was 33 seconds off the lead Team Sky still held hopes of wrestling a spot on the podium. In the end Henao finished eight on Willunga Hill, even though he was briefly the only man to try and follow Porte after the Australian attacked. With one stage to go - a flat sprint stage – Henao now sits 11th overall, at 1:06 after other riders surged up to him and past him at the finish.
“The team put in a really strong effort going in to the bottom of the climb to put me in a strong position,” Henao said atop Willunga Hill.
"There was a gap starting to form ahead of the other guys but I knew I had to continue on and I knew it would be difficult to follow Richie up the hill.”
“I was trying to get a place on the podium. It was all or nothing."
In praise of Porte
Team Sky and Orica-Scott set a furious tempo in the run up to the second and final ascent up Willunga. Ian Stannard, Kenny Elissonde and then Sebastian Henao helped to reduce the lead group to under a dozen riders and when Porte jumped clear to take the stage and extend his lead, Sergio Henao jumped too, attempted to match the BMC rider.
The Colombian was swallowed up soon after by the chasers and lost three more seconds to some of his closest rivals but Team Sky’s Brett Lancaster praised his riders’ efforts at the finish.
“The guys rode perfect. Richie just had better legs than everyone. They said that Sergio nearly crashed there but I’ve not seen the footage but well done to Richie. If he wins by twenty seconds then he’s the best man.”
When asked if Henao simply gave himself too much to do after losing time earlier in race, Lancaster pointed to bad luck, before praising his riders once more.
“That’s just one of those things in cycling. It’s a shame that he had that puncture so close to the finish but that knocked him around but tactically it worked out for us today. Thomas wasn’t brilliant for us today but he gave it everything.”
“The plan was to make it has hard as possible in the crosswinds and soften some people up.”
Team Sky have one last chance to take a win at the Tour Down Under, with Danny Van Poppel once more set to go up against Peter Sagan and Caleb Ewan on the final stage.
“Danny has been up there and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. Ewan has been unstoppable but we’ll give it everything tomorrow before heading to Cadel’s Race and then the Sun Tour,” Lancaster explained.