A conversation with fellow Australian and three-time individual time trial (ITT) world champion Michael Rogers seems to have paid dividends for current Tour de France general classification contender Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) on Stage 13 Friday.
"There were no real tactics, I couldn't look at my Garmin anyway because it doesn't work for me," said Porte. "I had a good chat with Mick Rogers last night. He said to keep it simple and so we did."
The 34-year-old Tasmanian scored the fifth-best time over the 27.2-kilometre race against the clock, which was 45 seconds adrift of stage winner and current race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep).
And despite losing 31 seconds to last year's race winner Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) and nine seconds to fellow former Sky team-mate Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First), Porte gained time on all of his other remaining rivals.
"It was a hot day, I felt good," said Porte, who is still slightly smarting from a fall two days ago in Toulouse. "Obviously, having a crash a couple of days ago has knocked me about a bit."
Crashing has been an issue for Porte, who crashed out of the previous two Tour editions on Stage 9 each. Having overcome the ninth stage roadblock and starting to come good from Stage 10, the two-time winner of Paris-Nice claims admits it is now or never to make a move and seriously contend at this year's race.
"It was a good ride, I think," he said. "We have done a lot of work on my time trial bike setup so it’s nice to get a good result. We can start the fight back now; we’ve given enough time away so it’s time to start taking some time back."
The top five stage result, which matches his best GC finish at the Tour in 2016, is perhaps a big psychological boost ahead of the next two days, both pivotal mountain stages starting with the legendary Col du Tourmalet Saturday.
“It will be everyone’s wish to win tomorrow on the Tourmalet, we’ll see what happens,” said Porte, now 4 minutes 44 seconds off yellow. “The GC is a bit more set and closer now. I think after a hard time trial like today you never know how the legs are going to be tomorrow, but look, I think everyone in the team is motivated to have a crack.”
Alaphilippe bested Thomas by 14 seconds, who is now 1:26 down to the Frenchman, but remains second overall.
“It wasn’t too bad it just felt like I was just overheating a bit so I was trying to deal with that," said the 33-year-old Welshman. "It’s not an excuse it’s the same for everyone. It was okay – just in that last bit, I didn’t really feel it.
“[Alaphilippe] is obviously going really well. He’s certainly the favourite and the one to watch at the minute. There’s a long way to go and a lot of hard stages to come now.”
Ineos co-leader Egan Bernal struggled in the heat, finishing 1:36 off the winning time. The 22nd-best result on the day forces the 22-year-old Colombian to concede the white jersey for the best young rider to Alaphilippe's team-mate Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep) of Spain.
On a day the Tour celebrated the 100th birthday of the maillot jaune, an inspired Alaphilippe rocketed his way to victory in Pau. The 27-year-old Frenchman set a final time of 35 minutes flat.
"I think I am the first surprised," said Alaphilippe. "I know that I can do a strong performance on this type of parcours. So with my shape, and also with the yellow jersey it's something really special. It pushes you more. I am really surprised and really happy to win a beautiful time trial like this in yellow."
Alaphilippe took yellow following his Stage 3 victory in Epernay, only to loan it to Porte's Trek team-mate Giulio Ciccone (ITA) on Stage 6 before retaking it two days later. Just how long the 2019 Milan-San Remo winner can remain in yellow is anyone's guess, but it's an answer that Alaphilippe is not focusing on personally.
"I don't want to know, I just want to surprise myself and continue to go as long as possible in yellow," he said. "Until now, it's just unbelievable."