• Daryl Impey won the Santos Tour Down Under for the second time. (AAP)Source: AAP
Richie Porte and Daryl Impey closed out the Tour Down Under on Sunday in what was an almost but not quite a case of déjà vu.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
20 Jan 2019 - 4:00 PM  UPDATED 20 Jan 2019 - 6:44 PM

Porte (Trek-Segafredo) kept his Willunga crown and won the stage to the hilltop for the sixth consecutive time but with less of an advantage to rivals than previous seasons. While Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) became the first man to scalp back-to-back race titles.

The South African took the ochre leader’s jersey on the last day after overnight leader Patrick Bevin (CCC) conceded his position to injury pain. Bevin had been in doubt but started the sixth and final stage with bruising and contusions from a high-speed crash on Saturday.

“I felt sorry for Paddy, it’s very unfortunate and I was looking forward to having a nice battle with him today,” a gracious Impey said.

“He was a little bit robbed in the race. He’s got guts – coming to the start line today, you could see he was hurting. Definitely, in this bike race, he’s been the most consistent and he would have been a really deserving winner.”

The stage win was a confidence boost for Porte in his first show with the new team. The Tasmanian was isolated on the final climb and attacked later than normal but to the same end.

“The stage was probably easier for me than it ever has been because I was in a good position. But when Kenny Elissonde did a fantastic ride there for Wout Poels that was hard to have to take it up myself. To be honest, I thought I’d had it there but when I heard [sports director] Kim Andersen on the radio telling me everybody else was suffering too, it was a second wind,” said Porte.

“I’ve never had to chase like that. Last year I had Rohan Dennis sacrifice himself but this year, having to chase the two strong Sky riders was the hardest way I’ve done it before.”

Porte jumped to second overall after the stage victory, 13 seconds in arrears of Impey instead of on countback as was the case last season. Poels rounded out the podium for third, 17 seconds adrift.

“It’s a shame there’s not another hilltop finish there through the week, but to win six in a row with a new team, it’s a nice way to start,” Porte said. “Luca Guercilena, my new boss, didn’t put any pressure on me. I think they were resigned to the fact it was going to be a hard race to win.”

Impey started the day seven seconds in arrears of Bevin after what had been a tight contest between the pair all week. The 34-year-old won stage four, fought for bonuses at intermediate primes and finished stage six a close third behind Porte and Poels to record history. He credited Lucas Hamilton for his assistance on the hilltop finish.

“If I didn’t have Lucas there in the final, I definitely wouldn’t have been that close to Richie in the end,” he said.

“I never dreamed I would come here and win twice in a row. I just believed in myself, the team believed in me and it’s fantastic to pull it off.”

The victory doubled as a nice send-off for Australian teammate Mathew Hayman, who called time on his career in South Australia.

“The whole team, it’s not only one guy – it’s very important to state that Lucas and I can do our job in the final because of great teamwork. Especially with it being Maty Hayman’s last race, this is special,” Impey said.