• Thumbs up on a job well done by Richie Porte. (Getty)Source: Getty
Richie Porte brimmed with confidence after he lay first claim to the Santos Tour Down Under on Wednesday, marking a solo victory on the opening hilltop finish to assume race leadership.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
18 Jan 2017 - 6:33 PM  UPDATED 18 Jan 2017 - 6:34 PM

The 31-year-old has adopted an all or nothing approach to the tour he has from the outset outwardly stated he wants to win this year after finishing second overall the past two editions.

Speaking to reporters after his late attack in Paracombe, Porte appeared lean as ever but also unshakeable.

Questions referencing his previous sad tales of untimely punctures and cruel penalties were met not with pained expression but faith in his own ability and that of the BMC team, which he joined last year to try and win the Tour de France.

“I knew I had to back myself, I knew I had the form to do it,” Porte said. “The legs are good, the team is better than my legs, they were incredible today, so it’s good signs to come, not just for the Tour Down Under but 2017.”

Rival outfits in Adealaide have observed it is not impossible but may be difficult to take time back off Porte given the remaining stages. Outside of those suited to sprinters is the queen stage to Willunga, which the Tasmanian has won from the same spot and with the same attack three years running.

Porte put 29 seconds into other pre-race favourite Sergio Henao (Sky), who spent some 40km of the stage chasing back from a double puncture.

“There are still a lot of things that can happen out on the road but it’s a good position to be in. I might have to sacrifice the Willunga stage on Saturday to try and defend the lead, if I’ve still got the jersey, so we’ll take it as it comes,” he said.

BMC sporting manager Allan Peiper emphasised the impact a victory in Adelaide could have on Porte’s overall season in which he is due to solely lead at the Tour after racing as a co-captain with Tejay van Garderen last year.

“If you have a look at the history of the last four or five years, especially of the Tour de France, you can see that riders get confidence as they build through the season,” Peiper said. “They start off good, build to the next race and it’s usually a winning streak all the way to the Tour.

“I think him starting off well here bodes well for the rest of the season. We’ve set his goals, there’s enough break in between them to get to the Tour in the right condition, right frame of mind to perform at his best there.”

Porte on Wednesday was just happy to be in the ochre jersey, exclaiming “about time!” to race director Mike Turtur as he was congratulated for the first of what could be many times this year.

Porte lands a big punch on Paracombe
Richie Porte (BMC) staked his claim for a first Santos Tour Down Under title with an explosive performance which delivered him the Stage 2 victory and race lead.