Richie Porte finishes in 5th place in the Tour's queen stage and climbs into the general classification's top positions with four days to go.
It was the stage of this year’s Tour he had red-circled.
Richie Porte had ridden a reconnaissance of Stage 17 and he knew what he was in for: after a numbing climb up the hors catégorie Col de la Madeleine, the next climb of Col de la Loze – also rated HC – had leg-zapping steep ramps to the Méribel ski station that were guaranteed to make big differences in the overall classification. And they did.
When I reconned this stage in July with Bauke (Mollema) we knew it was going to be the queen stage at the Tour. To get through and come away in a better position than how we started makes me happy.
While rivals fell away under the pace over the steep gradients, Porte also lost grip a few times, but managed to balance going too deep, too long to battle back to the wheels of race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana).
Seemingly Roglič allowed a gap to open to teammate Sepp Kuss and López , and when he accelerated across, there was no more playing. It was each man for himself up the ridiculous pitches. López took advantage of the generous gap and held on for the win over Roglič. Pogačar was next in followed by Kuss and Porte.
“It was a fistfight to be honest,” explained Porte. “It was every man for himself. Sepp Kuss was there for Roglic but at the end of the day there was nothing teammates could do to really help.
“There are climbs in cycling like the Zoncolan that are absolutely brutal, but today, with the final at altitude, I could barely pedal my bike,” he continued. “With 500 meters to go I couldn’t stand up. Everybody went super deep. It was a hard day, but I’m happy with the way it turned out. Tomorrow is another hard day; we’ll see how the legs [get] back up.
It was a stellar performance by Porte and moved him up the standings. After starting the day in sixth place, he now sits in fourth, and the final podium in Paris closer to realization with a tough mountain stage and individual time trial still to come.
“I’m happy to move to fourth on GC. Let’s see how it is tomorrow and get through Friday, then hopefully do a good time trial as well.”
Richie Porte’s ride for Stage 17
Bike: 50 cm 2021 Trek Émonda SLR disc
Groupset: SRAM RED eTap AXS
– Crank: 52/39t
– Cassette: 10-33t
Wheels: Bontrager Aeolus RSL 37 Disc
Tires: Pirelli P-Zero Velo 25c tubulars
Tire pressure: 80 psi
View more of Richie’s bike details here.