After one of his best time trials in recent times on stage 13 in Pau, much was expected of Richie Porte as the Tour de France moved into the Pyrenees with stage finish atop the Tourmalet. The Trek-Segafredo leader would hold his own on the climb until roughly five kilometres from the summit, before he cracked under the relentless pace set by Groupama-FDJ.
He would eventually finish 14th on the stage, 2:05 down on winner Thibaut Pinot, but moves up to twelfth overall. Porte now lies 6:49 behind yellow jersey Julian Alphilippe, but just over a minute from the overall top ten.
"Movistar set such a pace on the penultimate climb and that put a lot of guys in the red," Porte said at the finish on Saturday, before warning that riders who went too deep on the Tourmalet may pay for their efforts in 24 hours when the race tackles its second summit finish in succession at Prat d'Albis.
"When FDJ took it up and made such a high pace I just had to let go and ride at my own pace," he added. "I kind of exploded but was then able to ride at my own pace to the finish line. I think that there are going to be a lot of guys tomorrow paying for today."
Porte would have hoped for more after the opening 14 stages of this year's race, but time lost in the crosswinds and again today on the Tourmalet have dealt his GC hopes sizeable blows. That said, the 34-year old remains as relaxed as he was in Brussels a fortnight ago and he is confident that persistence and consistency will pay off as the race takes on several more mountain stages between now and Paris.
"It was definitely decisive," he said of his time loss. "To lose two minutes on the line there… but we’ll just keep chipping away at it."
Porte was also asked the form race leader Julian Alaphilppe has shown thus far. The Frenchman now has a sizeable lead, two minutes clear of his nearest rival in the overall standings, a lead which has unexpectedly grown two days in succession.
"He’s here to win it," said Porte. "He’s absolutely flying. He’s obviously the form rider at the moment. He didn’t have much in the way of team support there, so that might play into it in the final of the race."
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.