Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) kept his Willunga Hill crown, winning for 6th time on the famous Australian hill today. Wout Poels (Team Sky) placed 2nd and Darly Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) finished 3rd, to secure the overall victory.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka started the stage with high hopes for Ryan Gibbons, our South African sprinter who was sitting 4th overall at the beginning of the day. It was a tall ask to have the 24 -year-old go toe-to-toe with the best climbers in the race but he sure gave it his all.
The first time over Willunga, Gibbons was looking good in a reduced group that also contained Ben O’Connor and Tom-Jelte Slagter. A general regrouping took place on the descent and it was all systems go for the final charge up the 3km climb.
Team Sky attacked the climb, which put Gibbons under some pressure. Porte was able to respond and then counter in the final kilometer to take the stage. Slagter and Gibbons fought bravely to the line, finishing in 9th and 12th respectively.
Unfortunately, just a 3 second gap between Slagter and Gibbons group meant Gibbons would miss out on the top 10 overall, finishing in 11th place. Slagter would end in 17th while O’Connor rounded out the top 20.
“I gave it my all today and had nothing left in the end so it’s a real pity to miss out on a top 10 result by just 3 seconds. With a bit more experience I am sure I could’ve saved those 3 seconds somewhere out on the road but the key is to learn from this and take the positives with me, of which there are many. After not expecting to be anywhere near GC contention before the race started, I am relatively pleased with where I am at. With just over a kilometer to go today I was still very much in the game and that is really motivating. I am sorry I could not follow through today for the team, but to have them rally around me like they did, well that was a great experience and I think that sort of team work will take us far this season.” – Ryan Gibbons