Porte jumps to second on Tour

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 07 Juli 2013 | 19.55

RICHIE Porte has surged to second place behind favourite Chris Froome after Stage 8 of the Tour de France.

Froome clobbered his rivals on the 195km stage from Castre to Ax-3-Domaines, finishing 51sec ahead of Sky teammate Porte and Movistar's Alejandro Valverde to rip the yellow jersey away from Orica-GreenEDGE's Daryl Impey.

The Briton's crushing victory left him 51sec ahead of Tasmania's Porte on the general classification. Valverde is third, 34sec behind Porte.

Canberra's Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) is 10th overall, at 2min,40sec.

But while Porte was riding high, fellow Aussie Cadel Evans saw his 2013 Tour hopes obliterated after an abysmal day, falling 4min36sec off the pace in 23rd.

Dual champion Alberto Contador was another high-profile casaulty, tumbling to 1min51sec behind Froome.

Contesting only his third Tour, Launceston's Porte again showed why he has long been regarded as Evans' successor as Australia's next grand tour contender.

Suspicions of a baton change have lingered all season as Porte compiled a host of impressive results, including a Paris-Nice victory, while being overshadowed only by Froome.

"The day went absolutely to plan," Porte said.

"We expected (Nairo) Quintana was going to attack and the attack went a little bit too far out and we just used our team absolutely perfectly.

"And for me today I think the standout was Pete Kennaugh. He just stepped up and I was able to save myself a little bit until the finale.

"Chris showed today he's the strongest guy who's here to win.

"It's just an incredible day.

"I think I've shown this year that I'm thereabouts. I've been second in most of the races that I've done now.

"This is the big one, but you can't get too carried away. It's a long way to Paris, but I enjoyed today."

Sky marshalled its forces on the bottom of the last climb and systematically blew all of its rivals to smithereens.

Porte was the second last rider to attack before Froome delivered the coup de grace.

"When I saw Quintana and Valverde were pretty tired, it made sense to set off at my own pace," Porte said.

"It's just one of those days that just went to plan and hopefully the next few weeks goes like that, too."

Froome demolished every rider in race, apart from Porte, as Team Sky put former winners Evans, Contador and Andy Schleck (4min) to the sword as Froome surged to victory.

The emphatic nature of Sky's performance removed any doubt the British outfit has the firepower to succeed absent defending champion Bradley Wiggins as Tour champion.

Evans was dropped 7km from the summit finish to plummet out of contention.

Impey finished 7min51sec behind Froome, ending an impressive spell in yellow as the mighty Pyrenees bared its fangs.

Australian-owned Orica-GreenEDGE's Impey and Simon Gerrans had spent four days in the maillot jaune after excellent team-work kept the big guns at bay.

But, as expected, the 195km stage from Castres caused a significant reshuffle.

Evans had suspected before the stage the race could be decided on the slopes of Ax-3-Domaines.

He was right - but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.

"My worst day of the Tour while I'm healthy, nowhere in the mix and a few little problems," Evans said after grinding to the summit.

"Anyway, I wasn't at my best and certainly didn't expect to be this far off the best.

"Sky, they just rode a tempo that was just really consistent from when they started on the Pailhieres to when they hit the bottom of Domaines.

"They rode a really consistent pace and not many people could match it.

"On Pailhieres, I was already having a bit of a hard time and that put me a bit on my limit which, of course, is cause for concern.

"But Domaines isn't quite as high so normally ... when you're in the running for GC, 7k (to go) on a climb is not one you would normally get dropped on.

"On the last climb I had a few physical problems come into the mix there and I couldn't push myself to my maximum at that point.

"When you have 20 guys riding away from you, you know you're a long way off the pace."

From the moment the starter's flag dropped in Castre, the race exploded.

Bidding to emulate 2010 victory to the Pyrenean ski resort, Christophe Riblon (ALM) combined with Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), Jean-Marc Marino (Sojasun) and Rudy Molard (Cofidis) to build an 8min lead before tackling the short climb to Coete de Saint-Ferreol.

Averaging 44km for the first hour, the quartet held a maximum gap of 9min50sec before Orica-GreenEDGE and Sky joined forces after 60km to cut the deficit.

And with Olympic track gold medallists Stuart O'Grady, Brett Lancaster and Geraint Thomas driving the bunch, the time gap soon dwindled.

Thomas was relentless, showing no sign of his fractured pelvis as he dragged Froome towards the head of the peloton.

Sky's main objective was to have Froome and Porte near the front after the intermediate sprint into Quillan before the mostly flat stage ramped towards Col Pailheres.

Badly injured two years ago when sent hurtling through a barbed wire fence by a French television car, Hoogerland was first through Quillan.

Andre Greipel claimed minor sprint honours behind the escapees, edging out green jersey holder Peter Sagan.

But the intermediate marker was the cue for the main players to react.

BMC and Saxo-Tinkoff had similar plans for Evans and Contador, leading to a bottleneck of elite chasers as the breakaway was doomed well before the stage's high point.

At 2001m, Paiheres is the highest peak on the centenary tour and was always going to be the first serious test of the general classification contenders.

And so it proved with 15km of vicious corkscrews at an average gradient of 8 per cent.

Impey was left to his own devices as the demands of defending yellow took its toll on his teammates.

Riblon's solo attack coincided with the splintering of the bunch, leaving a host of big names strewn along the torturous route.

Robert Gesink (Belkin) was the first to emerge from Impey's yellow jersey group, followed by Thomas Voeckler.

Quintana (Movistar) formally ended Impey's stint as leader with a withering burst halfway up Paiheres, putting paid also to Voeckler, Gesink and Riblon,

The Colombian was first over Pailheres, collecting enduring fame, 5000 euros and the 'Souvenir Henri Desgrange' named in honour of the Tour's founder.

Sky had a majority in the chase group and used it to advantage, pummelling BMC's Tejay van Garderen - last year's best young rider - into submission.

The American's demise left Evans to fend for himself, prompting the Victorian to latch onto Contador's Saxo-Tinkoff outfit on the descent into Ax-les-Thermes.

The final climb to the finish was not as long Pailheres, but just as savage.

It was here that Froome and Porte took control - and Evans perished.

Earlier, RadioShack-Leopard camper's was searched by French police before the stage start in Castres.

Team spokesman Philippe Maertens said: "The police stopped our camping car that goes from hotel to hotel and checked it for two hours, and then left.

"The usual stuff, every year ..."

Italian Matteo Bono (Lampre) abandoned the Tour after failing to recover from a back injury suffered in a stage 7 fall.

JERSEYS

YELLOW
Team Sky's Christopher Froome claimed the yellow jersey after Daryl Impey was unable to go with the climbers as the Tour entered the Pyrenees.

GREEN
Not a day for the sprinters but Peter Sagan claimed what was left of the intermediate sprint points to extend his lead in the green jersey.

POLKADOT
Christopher Froome took yellow and the polkadot jersey but the KOM colours will be worn by Pierre Rolland, who is equal with Froome on 31 points.

WHITE
Twenty-three-year-old Nairo Quintana made an audacious move on the two climbs to move into the lead of the young rider classification.

CADEL WATCH
A disaster for Cadel Evans, who had no BMC teammates to help him as he watched his yellow jersey hopes disappear after conceding 4:13 to Froome.

THE AUSSIES
Richie Porte stamped himself a future Tour de France winner by sacrificing himself for Froome then riding away from the bunch to move into second overall, while Michael Rogers is 10th.


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