Richie Porte stormed the Col d’Eze to win the final stage at Paris-Nice and wrap up a landmark overall victory.
Porte became the first Australian to win the prestigious stage race as he claimed the final uphill time trial by 23 seconds, topping the general classification by an impressive 55 seconds.
The Tasmanian carried a 32-second lead into the final day but Porte pushed any doubts aside by going a stunning 21 seconds quicker than his nearest rival at the intermediate split, holding his effort to replicate Bradley Wiggins’ victory for Team Sky 12 months earlier.
The product of a towering team performance during the last week, the foundations for victory were laid on stage five as Porte took victory on La Montagne de Lure after the team took apart the field.
Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) came the closest to Porte in the race and ended the final stage and the event second overall. Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R-La Mondiale) made a last minute run at the podium to finish third, 1:21 back.
After the climb Porte said: “I just never thought or believed that I could win Paris-Nice. For me personally I’ve never had a nice experience at this race so it’s a massive monkey off the back to come here and win it.
“I can’t believe it. The first Aussie to win such a big race and it’s just an honour to have my name up there with Bradley Wiggins, Tony Martin and all the big champions.
“I woke up this morning and I knew that I had good legs. After the armchair ride that I got from the team yesterday – as well as on stage five and for the entire week – I knew I’d be in good shape. The guys were just incredible this race.”
Now the winner of both stage races he has targeted for Team Sky, on the subject of team leadership in the future the 28-year-old added: “I don’t feel like I’m ready to lead at a Grand Tour yet. My goal is to go to the Tour and support Chris and Brad. Do that and maybe next year I could potentially lead Team Sky at the Giro.
“I’m still doing my apprenticeship and I’m still learning off Bradley and Chris [Froome]. I don’t expect to go to the Tour and ride for general classification. I’m in a good place at the moment and I don’t want to change anything.”
Time trial decider
The 9.6km time trial finale was back for a second consecutive edition after a ten-year absence and once again it was Team Sky that wrote their name into the history books. A time of 19:16 for Porte was just four seconds slower than the fastest time ever up the climb set by Wiggins in 2012.
Five Team Sky riders completed the race with David López (21st), Kanstantsin Siutsou (60th), Vasil Kiryienka (74th) and Danny Pate (113th) all playing an integral role in Porte’s success along with Ian Boswell, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke and Xabier Zandio.
Earlier Jeremy Roy (FDJ) was the first rider to dip under the 21-minute mark with a 20:59 to set the initial benchmark. The leaderboard shifted as Javier Moreno (Movistar) went a full 12 seconds quicker and from there the flood gates opened as the times came down.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) set an impressive time on the climb to end the day third quickest, 27 back, while Peraud and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) rounded out the top five.
Stage 7 Results:
- Richie Porte (Australia / Team Sky) 19:16″
- Andrew Talansky (U.S. / Garmin) +23″
- Nairo Quintana (Colombia / Movistar) +27″
- Jean-Christophe Peraud (France / AG2R) +32″
- Tejay Van Garderen (U.S. / BMC Racing) +52″
- Simon Spilak (Slovenia / Katusha) +55″
- Diego Ulissi (Italy / Lampre) +1:00″
- Michele Scarponi (Italy / Lampre) +1:03″
- Sylvain Chavanel (France / Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) +1:05″
- Jon Izagirre (Spain / Euskaltel) +1:06″
Final General Classification:
- Richie Porte (Australia / Team Sky) 29:59:47″
- Andrew Talansky (U.S. / Garmin) +55″
- Jean-Christophe Peraud (France / AG2R) +1:21″
- Tejay Van Garderen (U.S. / BMC Racing) +1:44″
- Sylvain Chavanel (France / Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) +1:47″
- Simon Spilak (Slovenia / Katusha) +1:48″
- Diego Ulissi (Italy / Lampre) +1:54″
- Lieuwe Westra (Netherlands / Vacansoleil) +2:17″
- Andreas Kloeden (Germany / RadioShack) +2:22″
- Peter Velits (Slovakia / Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) +2:28″