24 January 2014
Porte victorious on Pure Blonde Stage 5
McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill
Simon Gerrans slips past Cadel Evans to regain the race lead as Richie Porte takes stage honours.
Simon Gerrans reclaimed the ochre leader’s jersey by just one second atop Willunga Hill, after a phenomenal day of racing on the penultimate stage of the Santos Tour Down Under. The three biggest names traded blows on the final climb up Willunga Hill, with Gerrans ultimately taking third place and a four second time bonus behind stage winner Richie Porte (Sky). Cadel Evans finished in sixth, four seconds down on Gerrans to put him in second place overall.
“I just managed to sneak back into the overall lead,” said Gerrans. “So it has been a great day. I tried to conserve as much as I could on the climb because there was quite a strong headwind. The second you put your nose in the wind here you really die down and I could see that Cadel was obviously a bit nervous because he had done a heck of a lot of work. When we jumped away in the finish, he wasn’t able to respond.”
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While Evans attacked first as the peloton tackled the second pasage of Willunga Hill, it was Sky's Porte with the to wreak havoc. Gerrans and Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) found themselves having to dig deep on the climb with their rivals up the road.
Panic would have been their undoing but Gerrans was determined to make patience his greatest weapon:
"Patience was critical as everyone traded early blows," added Gerrans. "I knew I couldn’t waste any energy. I was on my limit for a lot of the climb, so I wasn’t in a position to do much more than I was doing. It’s a really tough finish especially with the headwind we had today. I knew if I jumped too early, I was going to pay for it and potentially get attacked at the top. Because I was patient, I had one good acceleration left for the line.
Evans hasn't written off success, despite repots to the contrary, "The race isn't over," Evans said, "but we are going against a team that is specifically designed for this race. We don't have a pure sprinter here. The difference between first and second and maybe even third on GC (general classification) could come down to the intermediate seconds. So if you don't come here with a lead out team and sprinters, it becomes quite difficult to achieve."