Bradley Wiggins held on to yellow and Richie Porte (Team Sky) and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) took a fine victory but the big story was the man who destroyed the field on the final climb up to Mende.
Before he swung off in the final kilometer, Richie Porte decimated the lead group, killing the hopes of Rein Taaramae (Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne), Bauke Mollema (Rabobank ), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Andreas Klöden (RadioShack-Nissan) and Fränk Schleck.
It took him exactly two kilometers to shell those top riders out the back and far away from Wiggins.
It was a display of power and confidence that put everyone in the red zone. Only Alejandro “Nothing Wrong” Valverde (Movistar), little Levi Leipheimer (Omega-Pharma) and BMC’s young gun Tejay Van Garderen managed to hold the torrid pace set by Porte.
Wiggins owes Porte a few cases of Guinness for hammering his competition on the queen stage of Paris-Nice, the Race to the Occasional Sun. Barring crashes or bad luck, Wiggins should still be in yellow for the final time trial up the Col d’Eze. What, did we say Easy?
After his stunning 7th place in the 2010 Giro d’Italia, Porte seemed to stumble at Saxo Bank and he jumped at the chance to join the Brits at Sky. In the last year, coach Bobby Julich has taken him under his wing and worked on everything — but mostly rebuilding his confidence.
In interviews Julich has been vocal is saying the sky is the limit for Porte — he also says that about Vuelta revelation Chris Froome. Julich, who had worked with Porte at Saxo Bank, was almost shocked at much the Tasmanian was ignored and mis-used. It calls into question Bjarne Riis’ eye for talent and training methods. How much would the Dane like to have him back now, post-Contador suspension?
Porte is thrilled to be at Sky and not just for the serious boost in salary. He’s having fun again as evidenced by his impressive win already this season in the Volta ao Algarve.
When Sky boss David Brailsford announced the signing of the 26 year old Porte, he said “now is his time to shine – whether that’s in a grand tour or on a stage race like Paris-Nice. He’ll get plenty of opportunities.”
Yes, he certainly shined today on the climb up to Mende. His captain Wiggins has six seconds on Westra and ten on Leipheimer and Porte is already thinking about Le Tour.