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With a dominant performance, Porte repeated his 2013 win in the famous time trial up the Col d’Eze and won Paris-Nice overall ahead of Kwiatkowski and Spilak

Photo: Sirotti












15.03.2015 @ 16:39 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Richie Porte (Sky) repeated his performance from two years ago when he won the famous Col d’Eze time trial and Paris-Nice overall on the final day of the French race. The Australian was clearly the strongest in the individual test and relegated Simon Spilak (Katusha) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) to the minor positions while Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) and Spilak completed the overall podium.


In 2013, Richie Porte marked his emergence as a formidable stage race contender when he took a hugely dominant win in Paris-Nice. An illness-marred 2014 season made people question whether he would ever fulfill that lofty potential but after a great start to 2015 he now seems to be back to his best.


Two years ago it was the win in Nice that laid the foundations for his best season yet and so the Australian can travel back to his European base in Monaco full of confidence after he managed to repeat that feat in the 2015 edition of the French race. As it was the case in 2013, he laid the foundations for the victory with a win in the queen stage and then stamped his authority firmly on the race in the final time trial up the Col d’Eze.


Porte went into today’s final stage as the big favourite to win the stage and he left no one questioning his superiority. Clad in his Australian champion’s jersey, he was already 12 seconds faster than Simon Spilak who was the best of the rest, at the intermediate check and he managed to add another second to that advantage in the final 4.1km of the course.


While Porte was always the big favourite to win the stage, there was more uncertainty about his ability to win the race overall. After his bad day yesterday, he trailed Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) by 36 seconds and many questioned whether he would be able to take back that huge amount of time from the in-form Frenchman.


However, Gallopin had a disastrous day in the saddle as he could only manage 29th, losing no less than 1.42 to his main rival. In fact, the Frenchman slipped from 1st to 6th in the overall standings and clearly paid the price for yesterday’s huge effort.


This opened the door for a very tight battle for the final two spots on the podium. With his second place Spilak got into contention and Rui Costa in third and Michal Kwiatkowski in fifth both had great rides too. In fact those three riders ended equal on time and so it was the exact times from the two time trials that decided the podium, with the Pole taking second, the Slovenian third and the Portuguese fourth. Geraint Thomas (Sky) rounded out the top 5 after a slightly disappointing time trial.


Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) won the points jersey while Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) took the mountains jersey. Kwiatkowski was of course the best young rider while Sky took a dominant win in the teams classification.


With the Paris-Nice done and dusted, the WorldTour moves to Italy for the final part of Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo next Sunday. The next major races in France are the Classique Loire Atlantique and Cholet Pays de Loire next weekend while the WorldTour returns to the country for Paris-Roubaix in April.


A legendary time trial

After a one-year absence, the classic Col d’Eze time trial was back as the final stage of Paris-Nice. The riders faced 9.6km of gradual climbing and the average gradient of 4.7% made it a test more for climbers than for time trial specialists.


Stijn Vandenbergh (Etixx-QuickStep) was the first rider down the ramp and under the torrential rain that marred the Cote d’Azur, he stopped the clock in 23.37. He was quicly beaten by Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) who went 22 seconds faster.


Kristoff takes the lead

The Dutchman got a few minutes in the hot seat before Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) posted a time of 22.36. However, it was sprinter Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) who got some attention when he showed great climbing form by setting a time of 22.11 to take the lead.


Anthony Roux (FDJ) slotted into second while Arnaud Gerard  (Bretagne), Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale) and Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) narrowly missed out on the podium. Instead, it was Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff-Saxo) who finally beat Kristoff when he set a time of 21.56.


De Gendt with a good ride

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) had now hit the course and already at the time check he was far ahead of the rest. He crossed the line in a time of 21.19 that would stand for a little while.


The first to get close was Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) but he had to settle for second with 21.42 before Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale) moved into third. Laurent Pichon (FDJ) and Ben Gastauer (Ag2r) both cracked the top 5 but Jack Bauer (Cannondale) did even better when he set a time of 21.48 to move into third.


Talansky moves into the hot seat

Rein Taaramae (Astana) had been slower than De Gendt at the time check but he was flying in the final part of the course. When he reached the finish, he had gone 1 second faster than the Belgian.


However, he never got the chance to sit in the hot seat as Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) set a time of 21.00 less than one minute later. The American enjoyed some time as race leader with Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) being the only rider to crack the top 5 for a little while.


Martin takes the lead

Many were curious to see how Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) would handle this test and he proved his great climbing skills with a great ride. Already at the time check, he was faster than Talansky and at the finish, he had set a new mark of 20.52.


Eduardo Sepulveda (Bretagne) and Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) both made it into the top 10 while Tejay van Garderen (BMC) had a poor ride to cross the line in 12th. As the GC battle started, Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) was the first rider to make it into the top 10 with 21.35 while Arthur Vichot was even faster with 21.32.


Great ride by Spilak

Sylvain Chavanel (IAM) missed the top 10 before Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) moved into 4th with another great ride. He beat Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) by just a single second as the Basque slotted into fifth.


Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida) set the 8th best time but everybody was now waiting for Spilak who had been superior at the time check. With a time of 20.36, he was 16 seconds faster than Martin and took the lead.


Porte takes the win

Costa had a great ride to just lose 11 seconds and move into second while Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) could only manage 11th. Thomas had a disappointing ride for 4th before Kwiatkowski powered across the line in a time that was just fractions of a second slower than Martin’s.


At this point, however, it was clear that Porte would win the stage and he set a time of 20.23 that was clearly the best. As Gallopin could only manage 22.05, the Australian won both the stage and the race.



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