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Tour Down Under 2018: Stage 5


Oh hello, I didn't see you come in there. 

Here's how things stand coming into the stage, with world champion and next star of Tattoo fixers, Peter Sagan, leading the standings. The Bora rider was in impressive form on Friday and picked up his first win of the season. He's in with a real shout of winning this race.

Richie Porte, however, is the big favourite for today. He's won on Willunga for the last four years running and knows the climb like the back of his hand... and if there's one thing we know about Richie Porte it's that he knows his hands. 

McCarthy and Impey, they're probably the dark horses for today... they can both climb and they can both sprint so Porte will need to put considerable time into them before tomorrow's sprint stage in the centre of the city. Luis Leon Sanchez, George Bennett, and Robert Gesink - don't rule them out either. 

So Porte has signed on, and so have most of the riders this morning. The race announcers are in their customary positions - standing about three inches away from each other, microphones in hands, staring into each other’s eyes as they unleash their inner monologues on the poor unsuspecting members of the public. I’m pretty sure that one of them ran out of things to say on Wednesday and just started reading from the user manual of a Ford Capri Mk II .

Over in the distance Stuart O'Grady is co-commentating for Australian television. He's actually very good, considering he's only done it once.

Ahead of the stage our very own Zeb Woodpower talked to Matt White from Mitchelton Scott. Here's what the Australian team DS had to say.

The neutralized start will kick-off in around 8 minutes time. Nearly ever rider has signed on - there are  a few stragglers but we're also at 'full-house' stage. There's a bit of a ramp just after the start, so that's probably where some attacks will come. The temperatures have dropped into the high 20s today so we should see more aggressive racing than we've seen at some of the start. 

Peter Sagan will be at the of today's outcome. The party line is that he will work for McCarthy today but as we've seen in the last few days it's the world champion who has the better legs and the better sprint. The climb up to Willunga suits Porte - it's a power climb but it's long enough for Porte to make that power-to-weight ratio work in his favour. 

One rider who will be hoping for quiet day today is Adam Hansen. He had a heated debate yesterday after the stage with one rider informing the Lotto man that the conditions were too hot to race. Hansen is the CPA rep but he's not the race jury. He spoke to us last night about the incident. You can read the story right here.

The peloton are on the startline and we're off. 5.6km of neutralized roads as we see Mike Turtur peep his head out of the race jury car's sun roof. 

While we wait for the racing to start, why not download the latest CN podcast. You can hear from Sagan, Porte, Haas and Impey. Here's the podcast.

And immediately five riders jump clear of the peloton. We have one chaser trying to make contact but that could be our break. Another other is coming along as well. Thomas De Gendt is there. 

KOM leader Nicholas Dlamini (RSA) Dimension Data is also in the break. He should seal the jersey today - which would be a fine result on his WT debut. Two more riders are trying to bridge up to the leaders. 

147km remaining from 151km

I'll bring you the full run down of riders as soon as I have them but as you would expect, no GC contenders are really up there. De Gendt is on the front and setting the pace during these early kms. Of course he was in the break at this point last year but was caught before the finish with Richie Porte taking the stage. 

Speaking of Richie Porte, he spoke at the start this morning and this is what he had to say:

A sea of Bora riders on the front at the moment as the break push on and look to establish a healthy lead. We can see Porte riding up the outside of the bunch, presumably having come back from the team cars. 

144km remaining from 151km

A full run down of the riders in the break:

2.26 now for the seven leaders as we see Sagan safely riding in the main field. On the other side we see LottoNL protect their two GC cards, Bennett and Gesink. Both could cause a stir today.

The leaders are along the coast now and the wind doesn't seem too bad as Diamini takes a pull on the front of the break. The Dimension rider needs to pick up max points on the first ascent of the climb to ensure he takes the jersey. 

131km remaining from 151km

This was the top ten last year. Porte finishes 20 seconds up on Haas and took 10 important bonus seconds. He'll need an equally impressive ride if he's it win the GC this year. Remember, Sagan and Impey could pick up bonus seconds in tomorrow's sprint. 

Crash! Crash in the break and Nuno Bico hits the deck!

The Movistar rider is now back on his bike but he's lost a lot of skin. He eventually makes it back to the lead group but that's a real blow for the young rider.

126km remaining from 151km

Impey and his team are paying attention, and they quickly position themselves just behind Porte's men.

4;36 so the work of BMC has already shaved a minute off the break's advantage. BMC have just left one rider on the front now, so perhaps they were more concerned with the cross winds. The chase has been called off for now.

Bahrain Merida have set a rider to front, so the message from BMC was clear, if you want to win the stage then you need to work with us because we're not going to do it all. 

Would you like to know what Brendan Canty thinks? Of course you would:

Bico is soldering on at the back of the break. His wounds have been dressed but he can't be comfortable. We weren't able to see his fall but it looks nasty, based on the amount of skin that he has lost. 

109km remaining from 151km

A bit more pace from the main field as we head towards the final 100km of the stage. The gap is at 3'42 as Merida post a couple more men towards the front. QuickStep are also in the mix.

A fine pro in his day, and now the DS at BMC, this is what Fabio Baldato had to say this morning:

Sky have moved Bernal towards the front. We've mentioned cross-winds but I'm not sure that the teams here are good enough to split the race if the wind picks up. You'd expect Quick-Step to traditionally try something but their Classics team isn't here. The gap is no at 3'41 with 94km to go. 

82km remaining from 151km

BMC have posted two more riders on the front of the main field to join Bevin, so that's three of Porte's men in action, although they're just setting a steady tempo at the moment. They'll save the likes of Dennis and Gerrans for the two final climbs. Remember, we do Willunga twice. 

The Tour de San Juan kicks off in a few days and we'll have daily reports, and news from the race. Want to know more? Here's our preview

These long, flat sections of road really don't lend themselves to the break. The bunch can see the cars up the road and keep the leaders in sight as we we head towards the most important sectors of the stage. 

Dont' forget you can download all our recent podcasts from the Tour Down Under, right here. Porte, Haas, Sagan, White, De Gendt, Greipel, Ewan, we've caught them all. 

Up the road and the riders in the break are tapping out a decent pace. The UniSA riders look good, although one would wonder about Dempster given that he was in the break just yesterday. Wurtz has his own card to play after Haas lost considerable time yesterday, while Dlamini is after the KOM competition. De Gendt is hunting for the stage but as he told us earlier in the week, in the seven attempts he had at the race he's only seen two break make it to the finish.

75km remaining from 151km

BMC string the bunch out in the heat of the mid-day sun as we head through the splendid countryside here in Adelaide. This week the CN team have learnt all about the local animals. Spiders, koalas, snakes, griffins, the lot!

Astana are up near the front as well. They're looking to set u Luis Leon Sanchez. A former winner, he's come back this year in form, and sits high up in the GC having picked off a few seconds yesterday in the sprint for third. He's a hardened veteran but still capable of a result on his day.

Astana are up near the front as well. They're looking to set u Luis Leon Sanchez. A former winner, he's come back this year in form, and sits high up in the GC having picked off a few seconds yesterday in the sprint for third. He's a hardened veteran but still capable of a result on his day.

68km to go and the break continue to ride well together but we have a major development. There are clouds. For the first time since almost the race began we've been under bright, almost unbearable sunshine, so at last the riders have some shade. 

Sky are having a decent race today. They've a young team, they're down to five, but they're keep Bernal out of trouble. It's still just one BMC rider on the front of the bunch with two Bahrain riders behind. 

This morning we set up a Twitter poll. We asked who would win the TDU. Here are the results as things stand. You can vote on our Twitter page:

58km remaining from 151km

You can find our complete start list, right here

Nice one Bico! The Movistar rider is still hanging in there with the break, although he does briefly lose a wheel and is forced to get out of the saddle and chase. After his heavy fall he'd be forgiven for sitting up and waiting for the peloton. 

The fight for position is starting to hot up as we see trains from Team Sky, FDJ, Bahrain and Quick-Step move closer to the front of affairs.

You can almost sense the rest of the break looking to De Gendt for guidance. He's the most experienced rider and winner in the break and he moves to the front and takes a long pull before gently peeling off. 

Porte sends reinforcements to the front with 42km to go. UAE also throw a couple of riders into the action as well. The gap is at 3'11 with 42km to go.

UAE and AG2R have hit the front as we reach the final 35km. The gap to the leaders is at 2'23.

Trek Segafredo lead  Guerreiro and Didier towards the head of the peloton. Both riders are well placed on GC and are outsiders for the top-five overall.

Heading towards the base of the first ascent of Willunga. This is where positioning for the bunch is important - more so on the second ascent. 

28km remaining from 151km

The seven leaders should make it to the summit for the first pass before the peloton catch them. It could be close though.

25km to go and the gap is at 1'51. 

Impey is a little further back and being looked after by Howson. It's Trek who set the pace with Sky just behind them. 

24km remaining from 151km

And now it's under a minute. The Dimension Data rider could be in trouble here as Boara and Bahrain Merida set a furious pace. 

Dennis is on Sagan's wheel.

The three leader have just 24 seconds on the main field, so it's all starting to come back together.

The peloton are picking up a few riders from the early break as we see Bico closed down as Bowden is dropped. That leaves just De Gendt and Dlamini at the head of the race. 

1km to go until the summit for the two leaders. It looks like they might make it now. 

22km remaining from 151km

De Gendt takes the maximum points and carries on while the Dimension Data rider sits up and waits for the rest of the peloton. 

The bunch crest the top of the climb and the gap is holding at one minute. De Gendt versus the peloton with one climb of Willunga to come...

Nathan Haas comes over the line with the riders already dropped as De Gendt holds his one minute lead with 19.1km to go.

And it's Lotto Jumbo who move to the front and set the pace at the head of the bunch. Gerrans can we seen rallying the BMC troops. 

16km remaining from 151km

15km remaining from 151km

Just 25 seconds for De Gendt as Sagan leads the peloton himself, with Oss on his wheel.

Rui Costa is there, as too is Edmondson and Impey. 

EF hit the front now as De Gendt is caught with 10km to go. 

9km remaining from 151km

BMC look a little isolated. Where is Porte? He's at the back and in trouble. EF are tearing the race report and Sagan is moving up. BMC are in trouble but Porte is coming back. Real confusion in the BMC ranks. 

6km remaining from 151km

It's still EF setting the pace as Sagan moves up and Porte this time is aware to the move and follows the world champion's wheel. 

Porte has maybe one or two men left as the bunch is reduced to around 25 riders. 

Oss hits the front now with plenty of Bora riders in attendance . Lotto are well represented too, as well as Bahrain and Astana. 

And Oss continues to lead as we approach the final climb to the line. They take the left hander and it kicks up slowly. 

McCarthy is there, so too is Porte, Sagan, Impey, Sanchez and the rest of the GC contenders.

And now BMC take up the pace setting duties but it's UAE who hit the front for Ulissi and Rui Costa. 

Bernal is third wheel at the moment and looking comfortable. Sagan is on Impey's wheel but no real attacks yet.

And Dennis hits the front. 

A really strong headwind for Dennis to contend with as Bernal moves into second wheel.

Gesink is third wheel. 2.2km to go. 

Dennis lines out the main field but Sagan is still there - mid-pack.

Dennis is starting to crack riders and one of them is Sagan with 1.8km to go.

Impey is still there and Sagan has blown, that's his race done. 

Sagan will lose minutes, not seconds. 

Still Dennis, Bernal, Gesink and Porte attacks with 1.5km. McCarthy goes with him.

The Bora rider is holding the BMC man. And Bernal is coming back.

Porte has to go again and he does with 1km to go. The second kick drops the Bora rival. 

Out of the saddle and 800m to go.

Porte is out of the saddle and powering away from the rivals that tried so hard to beat him. In the end though it's the BMC rider who is racing away. He's got the gap. Where is Bernal?

It's a large bunch still together but Porte is clear with just 250m to go.

Sprinting now for the line. He needs 8 seconds.

Porte takes the stage. Five out of five.

Well the television cameras at this year's race go from bad to worse. They've cut away just as more riders were finishing. I think Impey was up there. 

Impey has the lead!

Incredible. Where did he come from? It looks as though Impey did enough and holds a one second lead over Porte with one stage remaining. We're waiting on confirmation. 

Gerrans comes up and pats Porte on the back. BMC have the stage but not the GC. I wonder how much energy Porte used up in the cross-winds and if that made a difference today? BMC were caught out there. 

Porte says Impey has had a fantastic race and that it's unfortunate not to take the leader's jersey. Fair play for the BMC rider to praise his rival. 

So Impey was second at 8 seconds. Slagter was third. 

You can find our brief report, results and photos, right here.

An update: Full report, results, photos and video are all here

An excellent day of racing here at the TDU. Porte proved that he was the strongest rider in the race, and once again ruled supreme on Willunga, but that was an excellent ride from Impey. The South African didn't blow on the climb, and raced at his own pace, while others tried to follow Richie and exploded before the top. 

We'll have more reactions and quotes from the riders and the managers later on today, as well as a podcast from myself, Jeff Quenet and Zeb Woodpower. We'll also be back tomorrow with live coverage from the final stage of this year's race. 

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