Paris-Nice review: Porte powers to victory

Richie Porte raced to stage victory atop Col d’Eze and his second overall win on the final day of Paris-Nice. Michal Kwiatkowski hung onto second place overall with Simon Spilak completing the podium.

Rider of the race

There were some admirable performances this week but there can only be one victor, overall winner Richie Porte. The 30-year-old Australian time trial champion made his strengths count. He rode intelligently to take Thursday’s queen stage ahead of teammate Geraint Thomas, with the duo using a one-two attack to claw back time on the other leading contenders. On Saturday’s cold, wet and wind-swept stage, despite hitting the deck on a descent, Porte used his knowledge of the local terrain to marshall his efforts and finish within touching distance of race leader Tony Gallopin.

Richie warming up before today's stage (image: Sheree Whatley)

Richie warming up before today’s stage (Image: Sheree Whatley)

Porte consolidated those marginal gains on today’s final stage. He served up a masterclass in the discipline as he time-trialled confidently and smoothly up Col d’Eze to win his second Paris-Nice in three years and his first stage race of the 2015 season. He was over a minute slower, thanks to climatic conditions, than his 2013 time, when he’d put two minutes into Gallopin. He only needed 36 seconds today. Post-race, Porte admitted:

It means a lot to me to be a two-time winner of an iconic race like Paris-Nice, and this one feels even sweeter than the last one because it was so hard. They [Etixx-Quick Step] threw everything at us yesterday, and to win on the top of the Col d’Eze this year, like I did in 2013, is incredible.

Four things we liked

1. The stage-winnersWe liked that each stage, apart from the two won by the overall victor, had a different winner. At this stage in the season, riders are at different stages in terms of preparation depending on their season’s objectives. It’s great to see a such a broad mix of winners.

2. The parcours. We liked the return to a more traditional Paris-Nice route: an excellent mixed route with a fair amount of climbing in direct contrast to last year. What we didn’t like, however, was the effect the weather had on a number of stages. A lack of cross-winds rendered two early sprint stages snooze-fests. Additionally, the traditional ‘race to the sun’ turned into a flight from the sunshine as the last two stages on the Cote d’Azur were cold, wet and miserable for riders and spectators alike. This also resulted in a large number of DNS and DNF riders, including the three who were the lucky recipients of my special fruit cake intended to fuel their team’s ascent of Col d’Eze. Rumour has it they were keen to get back to the coach and ensure they had first dibs on the cake!
3. The last two stages. Despite the climatic conditions, I love watching the professional peloton race in my backyard over roads I regularly ride. It’s always sobering to see how fast the riders ascend some of my favourite climbs.
4. Opportunities. The presence of the big-name grand tour contenders at Tirreno-Adriatico created plenty of opportunities for up and coming riders and they didn’t let them go to waste. Witness Michal Kwiatkowski’s brave defence of the yellow jersey on stage six in the face of the ever-present Sky menace. His efforts were undone in the cold with a rookie error: he bonked. At the end of the stage, he was totally exhausted and looked in dire need of a hot chocolate, a hot shower and some of my fruit cake.
Then there was Tony Gallopin‘s spirited attack 30km from the finish on the same day which saw him take the stage and put him into the race leader’s jersey. The French were naturally delighted to have a home stage winner and the tantalising prospect of, just maybe, an overall winner. Or what about Davide Cimolai, Lampre-Merida’s recent winner of the Trofeo Laigueglia who, in taking a stage win on Friday’s slight uphill finish, racked up his first WorldTour victory?

The race in numbers

18 – The number of years since a Frenchman last won the overall (Laurent Jalabert, 1997).

24 – The winner of the Col d’Eze stage has won the overall on 24 out of the 31 occasions it has been used.

2 – Porte won the closing individual time trial up Col d’Eze for the second time in succession (2013, 2015).

General classification

1. Richie Porte (Sky) 29:10:41

2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick Step) +0:30

3. Simon Spilak (Katusha) same time

4. Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida)  s/t

5. Geraint Thomas (Sky) +0:41

6. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) +1:03

7. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) +1:05

8.  Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida) +1:24

9. Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) +1:38

10. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) +2:18

Link: Official race website

Header image: Sky

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