• Richie Porte on the charge with Mikel Landa and further back the defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal in his wake on Stage 13 (Getty)Source: Getty
Richie Porte demonstrated his impressive 2020 Tour de France form as he beat home defending champion Egan Bernal atop Puy Mary finishing within striking distance of the charging Slovenian pair, Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar.
By
SBS Cycling Central

12 Sep 2020 - 2:37 AM  UPDATED 12 Sep 2020 - 1:04 PM

Martínez battles to win as contenders square off in mountains
It was a race in two on the mountains of the Massif Central, with the stage being fought out among the early attackers and won by Daniel Martínez (EF Education First), with the general classification fight seeing Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) emerge as clearly the strongest climbers in the race.

The number 9 might not be Porte's lucky number, but today 13 was as he finished just 13 seconds behind Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar on the 191km stage. 

As Daniel Martínez (EF) took stage honours minutes up the road, Tadej Pogačar attacked the main group of favourites around two kilometres from the finish, with Primož Roglič glued to his wheel.

But the Australian hung tough within striking distance of the Slovenian dynamic duo, leaving Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) and defending champion Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) in his wake as he charged up the climb, driving his own pace. 

Although ultimately Landa was able to hook back on crossing the line with Porte on the same time, the result boosted the Tasmanian into the top 10 (+2:06), further proof he came into this year's Tour de France with solid form. 

Oh but for Stage 7 and the crosswinds, which Porte himself rued on the rest day, telling reporters via Zoom about Trek-Segafredo's "good robust team meeting" afterwards.

“Other than the crosswinds stage it’s all been pretty good, smooth sailing really,” Porte said on the first rest day. 

But the day wasn't all good news for Trek-Segafredo, losing Bauke Mollema in a crash back in the peloton as the stage leaders reached 82kms to go. The crash also felled Romain Bardet who seemed dazed after the crash, the French slipping to 11th (+3:00) on GC from fourth overnight. 

Porte confirmed the day was a bittersweet one due to the loss of his teammate despite his own strong finish.

"It's not nice," Porte said about Mollema's crash. "It sounds like a complicated injury, so we wish him all the best."

The Aussie acknowledged it was difficult to shake Mollema's fate from his mind for the rest of the stage but was happy with how the Trek-Segafredo team responded.

"Afterwards it's obviously hard to focus again on the race, but I think it went well for us" Porte said. "The guys put me in a really good position, and I had good legs today. It is very bittersweet, but the next two days are hard stages and I'm hopeful we can keep chipping away at the GC game."  

Speaking on the tough climbs that highlighted Stage 13, Porte recognised the skill of the race's top two and how brutal it was to remain with them through the journey to the finish.

"The penultimate climb was super hard," Porte said. "It's probably where the real explosion was. It was only in the last kilometre that I recognised the climb from the 2016 tour and it was an absolute grovel to the finish line."

"The two Slovenian guys (Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič) are the strongest guys here in this race, so to finish just behind them is a good result and put some time into the other guys in the top 10."

Porte looked ahead to the next hard summit finish, the Grand Colombia at the end of Stage 15 as one where there was likely to be further shake-ups and perhaps bigger time gaps.

"It was really only the last two kilometres that were hard, so the time gaps were never going to be huge" Porte said of the Stage 13 climb. "I think Sunday on the Grand Colombia, that's where the time gaps are really going to be big." 

The 2020 Tour de France continues tonight with Stage 14, a 194km stage from Clermont-Ferrand to Lyon that's for riders who like rolling hills with a bit of speed. Watch the race on the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker from 8:55pm AEST and on SBS HD / SBS On Demand from 8:30pm AEST.