With one and a half kilometres to race up Willunga Hill, Richie Porte made his now-traditional winning move at the Santos Tour Down Under. The only rider to track and follow the move was Jay McCarthy. The Australian on Bora-Hansgrohe quickly latched onto Porte's rear wheel at the moment television graphics showed the BMC rider was punching out over 800 watts.
McCarthy held the wheel until just shy of the blue one-kilometre banner, unable to give any more as Porte rode off for his fifth win atop Willunga Hill and he went into the red.
The 25-year-old crossed the line in 23rd place, his aims of a repeat overall podium extinguished in the final 600 metres of the climb as a group of riders rushed past including new race leader Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott).
"I was on the podium last year and this year we were in the position to fight for the overall with Peter [Sagan] in the lead and me in third overall before the stage started," McCarthy told reporters while recovering from the stage at the Bora team van.
"This morning's plan was that I would try and follow Richie and he attacked where he normally attacked and I tried. But obviously, I didn't have the legs and exploded with about 600 to go. I gave it everything and it is a bit of a disappointment and Sagan should have been in that second group but he wasn't. There we go," he added with a soft laugh as Sagan sat behind him in the van.
McCarthy started the stage in a better overall position than last year and within touching distance of the ochre. However consecutive days of racing in plus 40-degree weather and consistent efforts made across the stages to pick up bonus seconds caught up with Australian who could take some solace in the knowledge that he has given it his best effort across the week.
"I was just hoping he would settle more into a rhythm but he just goes. I was already on the limit and probably wasn't on the same sort of day I was feeling yesterday," McCarthy said of Porte's attack. "It is a bit of a shame but that is what a week of racing does and for me to achieve the podium position, I had to fight for sprints earlier in the week too and it all adds up."
Taking third place off Nathan Haas in the final stage of last year's race, McCarthy starts the Adelaide city circuit race in 18th position overall. 29 seconds off the ochre jersey and 16 seconds off the podium, McCarthy has little chance of repeating his efforts of last year but is confident he can taste future success at the race.
"At the end of the week, I tried everything and there is always next year," he said.
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