• Richie Porte at the 2019 Tour Down Under (Getty)Source: Getty
Richie Porte dished some general cheek but made no concessions to Tour Down Under race leader Patrick Bevin as he played his own hand in the hunt for overall on Stage 4.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
18 Jan 2019 - 8:03 PM  UPDATED 18 Jan 2019 - 8:11 PM

Porte thanked his teammates as he arrived back at the Trek-Segafredo van following the 129.2km stage in which defending champion Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) outsprinted Bevin (CCC) for line honours.

The result strengthened Bevin’s lead and also impression on the peloton as some rivals post-race began to observe that clawing back time on the recently crowned New Zealand time trial champion may now be “difficult” with two stages remaining.

That summary wasn’t part of Porte’s discourse even though his move on the defining Corkscrew climb didn’t stick. The Tasmanian was part of an elite quartet of climbers including George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Wout Poels (Sky) and Michael Woods (EF Education First) that went off the front with about 6km to go but were caught on the descent to the finish.

“For us guys who clipped off the front there that’s good signs for Sunday,” he said in reference to the queen stage finale to Willunga Hill.

“I think Bevin cracked pretty early but obviously rode a good tempo. It didn’t really feel we went super hard and the next thing there was four of us.

“We worked well together down there but I was surprised how quickly that group came back and was also surprised to see there was a camera motorbike sat right in front of them.

“Hats off to Daryl, he’s a good guy and I think he rode a great race.”

Porte observed CCC tactics after the squad appeared reluctant to do all the work throughout the day, chasing down an original break of six men that escaped early in the piece and then threatened to stay away.

“I think CCC were playing a bit of a game there and that could have cost us all the TDU. If the other teams didn’t come and ride it was game over,” he said.

“For me, my team were fantastic today. It was good. The guys were brilliant yesterday [stage three] until two laps to go. They wanted to make amends for that and they did a great job.”

Porte is considered the master of Willunga Hill, having won there on the past five consecutive years with the same trademark attack about 1.5-2km from the finish line.

Asked after today's stage if the 2019 tour title could be decided there, he put the onus back on Bevin.

“It’s more for Paddy Bevin to lose. He did crack there today. It’s stress, having the jersey and having to defend it,” Porte said.

Stage 5 on Saturday is tipped to suit the sprinters but could provide an opportunity for Bevin to take bonus seconds on the pure climbers, like Porte, in the race.

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