The Tasmanian’s strong climbing performance in the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge boosts confidence ahead of the Tour de France.
The pandemic may have thrown the cycling world upside down, shutting down the season for over four months, but Richie Porte seemingly has not missed a beat since winning the Tour Down Under in January.
The Tasmanian continued his strong climbing form off the back of finishing 6th overall in La Route d’Occitanie, and only two days later, Porte powered his way to second place at the top of one of France’s toughest climbs.
The second edition of Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge was a first-time appearance for the Trek-Segafredo team and offered a perfect test in preparation for the upcoming Tour de France.
The guys were awesome today, they believed in me, and every one of them did a super job. It’s nice to be second on the top of Mont Ventoux; I think it’s a good sign for the next month.
Porte was ushered through the race and up the 20-kilometer mountain finish by a strong Trek-Segafredo team. On Ventoux, his teammates helped contain the attacks.
Toms Skujins showed some surprising climbing prowess with just over eight kilometers remaining, pushing the pace in chase of the antagonists, then handed Kenny Elissonde the reins when his legs said no more.
When Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) launched the first severe attack, Elissonde went to the fore and led the select group of climbers in pursuit. “Kenny did such a hard tempo there in the finale,” said Porte. “That was perfect for me.”
Under Elissonde’s pace-making, only one rider could still manage an acceleration – Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) – and his attack exploded the group.
In his wake, Porte chased solo after dropping Nairo Quintana (Arkéa Samsic). Ahead the young Russian caught and passed Martin, with Porte following suit moments later.
Porte dug in but could not reduce the gap to Vlasov in the last kilometer, eventually crossing the line 18 seconds later, while Martin held on for third.
“Look, of course, you want to win, but Alexander was very strong today,” exclaimed Porte. “I think he’s a super talent. I am happy with second; it’s a great result.”
Elissonde, after his unselfish work for Porte, managed a 7th place finish. A convincing effort from the French climber.
“I am happy with where I am at before the Dauphine, that’s the bigger goal,” continued Porte.”I felt good on Ventoux, that’s probably one of the hardest climbs we do, and the heat also affected us. I think it’s a good sign where I’m at going forward.
“It was a great race – fast all day – but also strange to race with what happened in the Tour of Poland yesterday. Fabio (Jacobsen) was always in the back of my mind, and thinking about the fight that he has ahead of him.”