Despite being the strongest climber at the Santos Tour Down Under, Riche Porte (BMC Racing) was unable to repeat his 2017 victory, his hopes coming undone thanks to a superb and tactically perfect ride from Daryl Impey and Mitchelton Scott.
Porte attacked and won on the Willunga stage but a determined effort from Impey saw the South African take the race lead on countback before defending the ochre leader’s jersey during Sunday’s final stage in Adelaide.
For the BMC rider the Australian WorldTour race ended with mixed emotions. Winning on Willunga for the fifth time solidified his standing with the home fans but he came into the race determined on defending his crown.
“Obviously I would’ve liked to been first but with hindsight, I think Daryl did a fantastic race, he rode smart all week he’s obviously in great form,” Porte said after the race concluded with Andre Greipel winning the final stage.
“To win Willunga for the fifth time in a row feels pretty good. Obviously coming back as a defending champ it would’ve been nice to win again but I think my team did all that we could to try and win the race. I think we went down swinging.
“All things considered I’m pretty happy to be second here with a stage win as well.”
A change to the programme
Porte’s Australian season ends in a week at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. From there he returns to Europe in order to begin his focus on the Tour de France.
His preparation for the July race is different this year, with a change to his build-up programme. Paris-Nice and the Criterium du Dauphine are out and are replaced with Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Suisse. The change-up comes due to a desire to race in Italy and because he and his wife are expecting their first child ahead of the Tour.
“I’m doing Tirreno. It’s a bit of a change to the programme so I’m quite excited for that,” he said.
“I wanted to go to Tirreno just for a bit of a change. I love Paris-Nice, it’s been good to me over the years but I think it’s just nice to change things up. I’m probably doing Tour de Suisse and that’s probably more to do with the baby.
“I’ve never done Tour de Suisse. I’ve done Tirreno once before but didn’t finish it because of illness. So I’m looking forward to getting back to Europe and really getting the season started.”