Richie Porte pulled out one of the best rides of his career to take victory on stage five of the Tour Down Under.
The Tasmanian unleashed a stinging attack with 1.2 kilometres to go to clinch victory on Willunga Hill for the second year in a row.
Porte’s initial acceleration put all his rivals into difficulty, but with the ochre jersey of Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) clinging to his wheel, the Team Sky rider had to dig even deeper to offload the race leader.
Taking the win by nine seconds on the queen stage, Porte moved up to second place overall but came up a tantalising two seconds short on Dennis.
Team Sky had opted to sit back for much of the 151.5km test but were forced to push hard as crosswinds split the peloton briefly on the run to the final climb.
Luke Rowe and Pete Kennaugh helped bring things back together, before Geraint Thomas set the early pace on the famous climb.
Porte then did the rest, tearing apart a sizeable group of riders and setting up an intriguing final day in Adelaide. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) was unable to hold Porte’s wheel but sits third, 20 seconds back.
Despite taking out his second victory of the season, Porte admitted after the stage that he had been going all out for the race lead.
“I don’t think I quite got the jersey, which is a bit disappointing,” he said. “My team were fantastic today. Full credit to Rohan. I gave it to him as hard as I could but it just wasn’t quite to be. I’m very happy to win the stage. It’s a great way to start the year. I had a rough season last year so it’s just nice to get off to a good start.
“I know this climb quite well. It suits me a lot better than the stage at Paracombe. I was hoping to finish it off here but it’s so nice to win on this stage. Today it was like riding a stage of the Tour or the Giro.”