Hours after being presented with the keys to Willunga, Richie Porte unlocked his sixth straight win up the iconic World Tour climb.
“The king is not going to abdicate here,” declared the voice of cycling, Phil Liggett, as the Tasmanian again conquered the Tour Down Under’s queen stage.
It wasn’t enough to add to his 2017 win of the South Australian tour, but confirmed a fourth second-place finish for Porte.
“To win six times on Willunga is a great feeling,” said the Launceston father-of-one, who turns 34 later this month.
“I was presented with the keys to the town this morning and that’s a nice honour.
“It’s a hard race for someone like me to win with just one hill-top finish. I came with a new team and the boys were fantastic the whole week and put me in a good position.”
Having won the stage twice with Sky (2014-15) before a BMC hat-trick (2016-18), Porte was keen to continue the run with Trek-Segafredo.
He was in 16th place leading into the final 151.5-kilometre stage from McLaren Vale, 26 seconds behind New Zealand leader Patrick Bevin (CCC), a teammate at BMC last year, who dropped out of contention with 25km to go.
Porte attacked with a kilometre remaining and dropped Dutchman Wout Poels (Sky) to claim the 10-second win bonus in 3:30.14. However, South African Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) stormed into third place to become the race’s first back-to-back champion.
It’s a great way to start the year with a new teamRichie Porte
Porte finished 13 seconds behind overall with Poels a further four seconds back.
“It’s a great way to start the year with a new team,” added Porte, who collected a surf board as part of his prize for winning the stage.
“I’m happy with the move and looking forward to continue winning races.”
The two-time Paris-Nice champion will also ride next week’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race before heading to Europe.