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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, January 23, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. - Vincent Van Gogh

Current Racing:

Latest completed racing:

Tour Down Under final reports:

Winner Richie Porte's BMC team sent me this:

Melanoma: It Started with a Freckle

22 January, 2017, Adelaide (AUS): Richie Porte has crossed the finish line at the Santos Tour Down Under stage 6 criterium to secure the overall win for the first time in his career.

After standing on the podium in 2015 and 2016 in second place, Porte stamped his authority on the 2017 edition with two impressive solo victories on the Paracombe and Willunga climbs, to win with the biggest winning margin in the race's history.

With a 48-second lead before stage 6, Porte was kept safe by his teammates as the peloton tackled the 20-lap circuit around Adelaide and crossed the line safely to retain his lead. Rohan Dennis finished in six place overall and won the Tanya Denver award for the best-placed South Australian, a testament to his support of Porte throughout the week.

Porte's overall win at the Santos Tour Down Under is BMC Racing Team's fifth win for the 2017 season and Porte' fourth UCI WorldTour stage race win of his career.

Interview with Richie Porte

Richie, how does it feel to win the Santos Tour Down Under?

"It's an incredible relief. I think back to nine years ago when this race really kicked off my career. This is where I came a wild card. Then two years later I was in the WorldTour. So to win it is a massive relief. I've been close two times before so it just feels fantastic. Cycling is kicking massive goals in Australia with the crowds you're seeing on the road. I must say I'm so happy with my team too. They rode incredibly today and the whole week so it's just an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction to win this."

When were you able to enjoy the victory?

"It's not over until you ride over the line. I felt good and the team put in me in a great position all day and kept me out of trouble. So it was probably the most uneventful final criterium that I've done on this circuit, so that's thanks to the team."

Richie Porte

Richie Porte enjoys his win. Sirotti photo

You first rode the Santos Tour Down Under in 2008. How would you look at your career since then?

"It's been a journey for sure with ups and downs. There have been so many great people who have helped me. I'd like to say thanks to my parents and the teams that I've ridden for over the years. Hopefully it will be a great season for me and I'm really looking forward to getting back to Europe and getting stuck in."

How much confidence does this win give you?

"Quite a few of the guys here will do a program in the lead up to the Tour de France with me. That's exciting that I've got a team built around me for the first time ever. I've often been the plan B but BMC Racing Team has put a lot of faith in me this year. I think today I've shown that I can repay that faith they've put in me."

How does this bode for the rest of your season?

My next race is Paris-Nice. I love that race. It's sort of my adopted home race in Europe. It's early days but I'm ok with any pressure. If there was pressure here from the team, then I didn't feel it. Nothing was really ever said. It was just in the media that people were saying that I was the favorite."

Rohan Dennis on Sixth Place Overall:              

"We did everything perfectly. Obviously I didn't have great luck on one of the stages but the best man in the peloton won, and the most-deserving. He's been second twice and he's always constantly coming back just as motivated every year. The fact that he's able to do that every year in, year out, is impressive and I'm really, really happy for him."

"I haven't been quiet about the transformation from pure time trials and one week races to Grand Tours. That was my role here this week in that whenever something went wrong or I got dropped or when you would sit up and try and save energy, it was all about trying to minimize any time loss. It's all practice for when I go to the Giro d'Italia this year, or the Tour de France or Vuelta a Espana in other years. It's all about making sure I don't sit up when something goes wrong or I have some bad luck, it's about being consistent. It was a learning curve this week."

Fabio Baldato, Sports Director:

"I'm really, really proud of Richie Porte and the entire team. We came here wanting to win with Richie and he was really motivated for a good result, and good start to the season. The team was just perfect. Richie obviously showed how strong he was on Paracombe and Willunga, but the way all six of his teammates rode around him and for him every stage was really impressive."

"I think this is a really good sign for Richie for the rest of the season. To start the year here well on home soil gives him a lot of confidence for when he returns to Europe. The entire team, riders and staff, can be really happy with this week. To start the season with a UCI WorldTour win for BMC Racing Team is a great way to start."

Here's Lotto-Soudal's final Tour Down Under report:

The last stage of the Tour Down Under was a criterium in Adelaide. The riders had to cover twenty laps of 4.5 kilometres. A sprint seemed unavoidable. Although that didn’t mean there wasn’t any excitement. Thomas De Gendt battled for the KOM jersey.

Quite soon after the start, Thomas De Gendt escaped the pack together with Gianluca Brambilla. The two only got halve a minute advantage and after thirty kilometres the peloton already reeled them in. There were two KOM sprints in this final stage, in which each time a maximum of three points could be gained. Just before the first sprint some riders rode in front of the peloton, but Lotto Soudal caught them. Adam Hansen raised the pace with Thomas De Gendt on his wheel. Thomas picked up the three points and so he passed by Richie Porte in that classification. After the KOM sprint, a break of six got formed, including De Gendt. After a few kilometres De Gendt was riding in the bunch again as the escapees were no KOM contenders. Thomas De Gendt had conquered the KOM jersey.

Thomas de Gendt

Thomas de Gendt racing the final stage. Sirotti photo

Thomas De Gendt: “Before the start, we had agreed within the team that we would keep the group together until the first KOM sprint. Sander Armée closed the gap on the escapees. Adam Hansen was in the right place at the right moment and he accelerated with me on his wheel. Adam knows what to do in these kind of situations thanks to his experience in the train of André Greipel. It’s thanks to the teamwork that I could pick up these extra points and can take the KOM jersey home with me.”

“It’s always nice to win a classification in a stage race. Several of our sponsors are on the Australian market as well, so for them it’s great that a Lotto Soudal rider can go up on stage. For me this is a confirmation after the hard work I’ve done the past winter.”

As expected, the stage ended with a sprint. Many will have put their money on Caleb Ewan and indeed, the Australian rider won his fourth stage. Peter Sagan got second again, ahead of Marko Kump. Sean De Bie sprinted to the fifth place. It was his third top ten place this week. Rafael Valls finished seventh on GC, 1’02” behind overall winner Richie Porte. A very strong comeback after a season full of injuries.

Rafael Valls: “I am satisfied with my result here at Tour Down Under. It’s a good performance after all these months without competition. I felt good on training, but didn’t know how it would be during a race. The past week has proven that my condition is really well. This is good for the confidence.”

“I already felt quite good on day one. The finale of the second stage, to Paracombe, was very explosive. I am glad I could follow the strongest riders in the race and that I finished in a group that battled for the fourth place. Also at Willunga Hill I was good, but at the end faster riders gained some seconds. So I could have ended up a bit higher on GC, as the gaps are very small. Richie Porte was the strongest rider in the race, there is no doubt about that. We are now staying another week in Australia and will participate in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race next Sunday. We want to do well again with the team.”

Here's Bora-hansgrohe's race update:

The finale of the Tour Down Under’s final stage was earmarked for the sprinters, but this by no means meant the rest of the race was over. Going into the day just a few seconds off a podium spot, the sprint bonuses throughout the stage could still propel Jay McCarthy into the top three. Taking the first intermediate sprint, the Australian rider finished safe with the bunch to finish the day 3rd in the GC after a hard week of racing in South Australia.

The course itself looked fairly innocent – a 4.5km route ridden twenty times, for a total of 90km, with little in the way of climbs nor obstacles to trouble anyone, even after the efforts of the previous week. This meant it was down to the riders themselves to provide the fireworks, and with opportunities to take extra time in the overall standings on laps 8 and 12, this is exactly what the BORA-hansgrohe team did.

Speeds were high from the start, with riders hitting a little under 50km/h in the early laps alone. While there were attempts at breakaways, the peloton was never far behind. At the first intermediate sprint on lap 8, Jay, ably led out by the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, took the win and with it three extra seconds in the GC contest. At the second intermediate sprint, a small break managed to hold out in front to take all of the bonuses, but Jay had managed to jump into a podium spot with his efforts on lap 8 and just had to hold his advantage until the finale and finish safely. With the GC contest in hand, attention turned to the day’s finish, and reeling in the break that was trying to frustrate the sprinters so that Peter could contest the win.

PEter Sagan

Peter Sagan racing in stage 4

With just 16 seconds separating the break and the bunch on lap 16, it was only a matter of time until the break was caught. The sprint teams were now controlling the pace and the gap came down steadily as the tempo rose in the bunch. With the catch made on lap 18, it was all going to come down to the sprint. The twists and turns of the street course, that had been relatively safe the previous 19 laps suddenly took on a different character, with the furious pace making every turn treacherous. Coming from more than ten wheels back and jostling hard for position, Peter came in second after an all-out effort for the line.

Jay had acknowledged earlier in the race the importance of collecting bonus seconds throughout the week and was thrilled with his podium position after a race calculated to perfection. “I’m super happy – we had the plan to go for the intermediate in the team meeting this morning and it worked. I have to thank the team so much – we controlled it from the start and made sure the breakaway wasn’t gone for the intermediate. Having the current World Champion, Peter Sagan, leading me out, is bloody awesome, so I’m really happy I’m on the podium.”

Sports Director and Coach, Patxi Vila, had nothing but praise for the team after a strong first race of the season. “It was a fantastic ride for the team. We wanted to put Jay on the podium and that was the first objective of the day, and we achieved that thanks to great teamwork. Jay was fantastic beating Caleb Ewan in the intermediate sprint, taking three seconds and jumping onto the podium. In the final, Caleb was strong and Peter put in an amazing sprint for second. All the management are really happy with the performance of the team and it was a really nice week for us.”

After a week of not only contesting the sprints, but also working to support Jay McCarthy in his GC campaign, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, enjoyed his first race of the calendar. “It was a really good race for us. I heard that every year the race is getting more difficult, and it gets harder to win stages, but I think I had a really good week and I enjoyed being here.”

The efforts of the past week over, the team remains in Australia to contest the second edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, with races on Thursday and Sunday in Melbourne and Geelong.

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