Richie Porte (BMC Racing) made it 5 wins in a row on Willunga Hill by claiming the victory on today’s stage 5 of the Tour Down Under. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) finished in 2nd, some 8 seconds back but it was enough to move into the overall race lead on countback with Porte. 3rd place went to our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka leader, Tom-Jelte Slagter.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had two main objectives for today’s 151km queen stage to Willunga Hill, one, was to secure the King of the Mountains jersey with Nicholas Dlamini and two, was to place high on the stage with Slagter, securing a top overall GC placing.
Dlamini was first up and he did his job perfectly, making it into the 7-rider break of the day. The peloton made life difficult for our 22-year-old South African though, particularly the BMC team who kept the chase on all day. Dlamini worked hard to make it over the summit of the first Willunga Hill ascension ahead of the peloton, doing so with just 50 seconds to spare. That was enough to ensure the King of the Mountain Jersey remained on the shoulders of Dlamini heading into tomorrow’s final stage.
Over the climb, there was still 20km of the 150km stage remaining and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) who was the last rider left with Dlamini, went solo in pursuit of the stage win. With the blustery wind conditions, the peloton was at full tilt and quickly reeled Dlamini in, while also dropping riders from the main group. A split in the peloton caused by crosswinds just before the 2nd and final time up Willunga Hill put our African Team in a spot of bother, as we had nobody in the front group. The team was superb though as Lachlan Morton, Jaco Venter, Scott Davies and Ben O’Connor rolled through to close the gap, bringing Slagter back into contention just before the climb started.
De Gendt didn’t make it to the climb with any time to spare and it was going to be a day for the favourites. Porte, who knows this climb backwards was once again unbeatable. Slagter rode an intelligent climb, at his own pace and could then unleash a powerful sprint in the final, crossing the line in 3rd place after Impey snuck ahead moments earlier, to ensure 2nd on the stage and the overall race lead was his. With Slagter placing 3rd on the stage, he also moved into 3rd place on the overall classification.
Tom-Jelte Slagter – Rider
I am very happy and we can be proud as a team after our performance today. It’s almost the last day already, so we had to wait 5 days for a good result because everyday was a group sprint or bunch sprint and our results weren’t all that super. Today when the GC was made though, we were there and 3rd place on the stage and 3rd on GC too, for me personally that is a great start to my season and with Team Dimension Data.