NICE, France (AP) — Richie Porte of Australia mastered tricky conditions to win Paris-Nice for the second time after being fastest in Sunday’s final time-trial stage.
Porte trailed overnight leader Tony Gallopin by 36 seconds going into the 9.5-kilometer (5.9-mile) race against the clock from Nice to Col d’Eze, but was the quickest to climb the moderate ascent and won the stage in 20 minutes, 23 seconds. Gallopin finished 1:39 behind Porte to slip to sixth overall.
Simon Spilak and Rui Costa were second and third Sunday in rainy and windy conditions.
Porte, who became the first Australian to win the weeklong race two years ago, denied Gallopin’s hopes of becoming the first French champion since Laurent Jalabert in 1997.
“It feels a little bit sweeter than the last one,” said Porte. “36 seconds is a lot, but I was reasonably confident this morning. I ride this climb so many times in training. I think I probably rode it faster in training than I did today.”
Gallopin had a bad day.
“It’s terrible,” Gallopin said. “One day you can feel so well and the next so bad. It was just an awful day. I’m not looking for excuses. There is no excuse. It’s the law of sport but it’s a terrible disappointment. With the legs I had this week, it was possible.
But you’re not often in a position like this. I was nervous. It’s a blow. But you learn from such blows. I hope it can help me in the future.”
Porte won ahead of world champion Michal Kwiatkowski, who trailed 30 seconds back overall, and Spilak.
Gallopin had seized the overall lead after a superb solo effort in Saturday’s stage, a hilly trek in the Nice hinterland that was marred by crashes by Porte and teammate Geraint Thomas in a descent.
But the Australian time trial champion escaped unscathed and recovered quickly to dominate the field on the famous pass where he sealed his win two years ago. The Team Sky rider was ahead at the first intermediate time and gradually increased the gap with Gallopin to secure a second stage after winning on the slopes of the Croix de Chaubouret midweek.
“We threw time away yesterday, when we were in a fantastic position, to both crash like this,” Porte said. “There was too much tyre pressure, it was not ideal. It was like riding on ice. For me to win this way is just a fantastic feeling. We have a fantastic team. We had a rollercoaster season last year. I think we’re back now.”