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Tour de France: Porte and Mollema stay well in contention at Orcières-Merlette

Trek-Segafredo’s Richie Porte stayed well in contention in the general classification by finishing in the front group of 16 riders at the finish of stage 4 of the 2020 Tour de France at Orcières-Merlette
Trek-Segafredo’s Richie Porte stayed well in contention in the general classification by finishing in the front group of 16 riders at the finish of stage 4 of the 2020 Tour de France at Orcières-Merlette (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Trek-Segafredo have come to the 2020 Tour de France with two leaders in Australia's Richie Porte and Dutchman Bauke Mollema. Both riders have stayed out of trouble in what has at times been a very wet and treacherous race, which has seen a number of big names crash, but both Mollema and Porte finished safely within the 16-man front group at the conclusion of stage 4 at Orcières-Merlette on Tuesday, and now sit 11th and 16th, respectively, both 17 seconds down on race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

"It was good," Porte said in a team video interview following the stage. "Bauke and I were still up there with the main guys. The team did a great job today – Mads [Pedersen] was exceptional – and put us in a good position. It's nice to get through it and nice to finally get some good weather.

"The last kilometre really hurt," he admitted, "but it wasn't a real climb to the finish there. It was a bit four-to-five per cent, which really hurt when you had GC guys up there sprinting like that. It was quite messy, but it was a good stage to tick off.

"We'll get through tomorrow," the 35-year-old said of Wednesday's stage 5, which is a mainly downhill affair between Gap and Privas, and which should go the way of the sprinters. "No stage of the Tour is easy, and today was really fast, but then stage 6 [Le Teil to Mont Aigoual] is the first real mountain-top finish."

Mollema finished in 13th place at Orcières-Merlette, one spot ahead of Porte, and agreed with his teammate that it had really only been the speed of the favourites at the front of the race that had made the final climb to the finish difficult.

"It was a bit of a strange climb – not super steep, not super long – and only seven kilometres, so it was really explosive in the end," Mollema explained in comments released by the team. "The start of the climb was quite easy, but for the last three-to-four kilometres, it was a super-hard pace.

"In the last kilometre, I really had to sprint to stay in the group and not lose any seconds. I just made it, but, yeah, I didn’t have any sprint in the legs anymore," the 33-year-old admitted.

"It was a pretty fast day, all day. We rode hard to get the break back, and then in the end it was just explosiveness with the GC guys," said Mollema. "It was more or less what I was expecting for today; I wasn't expecting any big gaps."