December 12, 2016
BMC's Richie Porte has won the 2017 TDU, finishing the six stage race with a 48" margin over Orica-Scott's Esteban Chaves.
Porte took over the lead on Stage 2, 148.5km from Stirling to Paracombe, eeking out further seconds over successive stages until taking a second win on Stage 5. He had only to stay ourt of danger on the final stage's 90km Adelaide criterium to confirm the win, his first at the Santos Tour Down Under.
The win was all the more satisfying given it was Porte's first race since breaking his shoulder blade at the Olympics Games road race.
“After crashing in Rio and injuring myself in a nasty crash, it wasn't too hard to motivate myself for this race,” said Porte. “I had a good break and I came here fresh, physically and mentally. It was a dream for me to win this race.”
Porte paid tribute to his team's efforts, “It's incredible to come back here and win the Santos Tour Down Under after being so close in the last two years,” said Porte. “I owe each day of racing successfully here to my team-mates. They took me to the line every day and it's a massive credit to them.”
The fianl stage win went to Caleb Ewan (ORICA-SCOTT) who dominated the results with four stage wins, “I can't believe it,” said Ewan after again edging out reigning World Champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) on the line ahead of Slovenian Marko Kump (UAE Abu Dhabi) in third. “Actually, coming to this Tour I joked with my girlfriend saying that I'd win four stages and I've done it but I didn't believe I would with the level of sprinters that are here.
“Maybe Sagan isn't in his best form but he's still the world's best rider at the moment (and) it's been great having him here. All the people love him. The World Champion racing here, it's fantastic.”
The short stage meant that the main protagonists had to make the best of all opportunities to guard hard fought positions or make last minute gains.
Sagan downplayed his own ambitions, explaining his imperatives were to first protect the third place spot on GC of Jay (McCarthy) and with only three seconds to Chaves possibly push him ahead, before considering gong ofrthe stage win.
At average spped of 47km/h chances were few and far between. The main break involved five riders, Johannes Frohlinger (Team Sunweb), Ben O'Connor and Jaco Venter (Dimension Data), Francois Bidard (AG2R La Mondiale) and New Zealander Jack Bauer (Quick - Step Floors). Once the last of the sprint and climbing points were swept up the break fell apart to leave Bauer in a lone bid. it was always going to be a sprinters finish but the Kiwi made sure it was a hard won battle.