Chaves moves into second overall following famous Willunga stage at the Tour Down Under

Sat 21 Jan 2017

2016 Il Lombardia winner Esteban Chaves has finished in third placed up the famous Willunga climb on the penultimate day of the Tour Down Under.

Chaves finished 20seconds behind race leader Richie Porte (BMC), who all-but secured the 2017 title with a second stage win, to move into second overall with one stage to go.  Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) finished second on the stage to move in third on the general classification.

ORICA-SCOTT and Team Sky worked hard on the front of the peloton in attempt to isolate Porte and split the bunch in the approach to the final climb, but Porte was too strong and claimed his fourth consecutive win up Willunga. 

Chaves praised Porte and the Australian crowd, but was equally happy with a strong week of racing so early in the season. 

“It was really hard, especially on the climbs but it was beautiful at the same time,” Chaves said. “There was a lot of people at the border, it was like the Tour de France for three kilometres, twice.”

“The team worked really well for me. All day they protected me from the wind and also gave me bottles and put me in the sweet position. We tried to split the group with Sky before the second climb in the wind but it’s not really strong so everyone started (the climb) together. 

“Richie, like the last years, (went) one kilometre from the finish. It’s impressive, congratulations to him, and we just fight for the podium.

“We were going really fast and when (Richie) attacked the first time I am with him. He rested for like 10seconds and attacked again and I can’t go with him. 

“For the moment I am second on GC and I’m happy to start the season in this form.  We are in the third week of January and this is a WorldTour race so we can’t complain, it’s good.”

How it happened:

In what was the final showdown for the general classification battle, the peloton took off from McLaren Vale headed for three local circuits before tackling the famous Willunga Climb.

For the second consecutive day Jack Bauer (Quickstep) found himself in the breakaway, this time alongside Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Will Clarke (Cannondale Drapac) and Jeremy Maison (FDJ). 

The quartet sat around two and a half minutes in front of the peloton before the pace picked up from behind on the first ascent of Willunga.

The catch was made with six kilometres remaining as ORICA-SCOTT and Team Sky strung out the peloton on the approach to the stage finale. 

The climbers were soon visible at the front of the race but Porte was once again too strong and attacked solo for the victory.