Rohan Dennis retains overall lead in Tour Down Under
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Rohan Dennis will take a two-second lead into the final stage of the Tour Down Under after fending off a stern challenge for the leader’s jersey from compatriot Richie Porte on Saturday.
Porte started Saturday’s 151.5-kilometer (95-mile) stage from McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill in fifth place on general classification, 15 seconds behind Dennis and eight seconds behind second-placed Cadel Evans, the 2011 Tour de France champion.
He drew away from Dennis on the tough climb up Old Willunga Hill to win the stage by nine seconds but, despite time bonuses, was only able to close within two seconds of the tour lead.
Evans remains in third place, 20 seconds off the lead ahead of Sunday’s 90-kilometer (56-mile) final stage around central Adelaide.
Porte won the Willunga Hill stage for the second year in a row but, for the first time since the summit finish was introduced in 2012, the tour lead didn’t change hands on the stage.
Dennis is now strongly placed to win the tour as the lead seldom changes hands on the final stage.
“My team were in front all day with only a little bit of help,” Dennis said. “They were amazing.”
Dennis admitted he was concerned when he saw Porte launch his attack.
“I saw Cadel just got on his wheel,” he said. “Unfortunately, he couldn’t hold it.
“I was lucky enough to have some sort of a jump left. I jumped onto Richie’s wheel but he was just powering away.”
Evans will enter Sunday’s final stage in third place overall but 20 seconds off the lead in his last World Tour event.
“I don’t think I quite got the (leader’s) jersey which is a bit disappointing but my team were fantastic today,” he said. “Full credit to Rohan. I gave it to him as hard as I could but it just wasn’t quite to be.
“This race is far from over. It could still go down to the streets of Adelaide tomorrow.”