Porte aims to stake Tour claim in hills

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    After spending a day in the furnace, Richie Porte hopes to put some heat on his Tour Down Under rivals.

    The Australian cycling star will enter his favourite terrain on Wednesday in stage two, a particularly-tough stage through the Adelaide Hills.

    Each year, race director Mike Turtur makes the Tour a little tougher and the Stirling to Paracombe stage is his 2017 masterpiece.

    It is so tough, Porte and others have christened it the Tour’s new Queen stage – the status usually reserved for the second-last day at Willunga.

    The Tour winner will still be confirmed at the Willunga summit, but the five laps at Stirling and the final climb to Paracombe promise to unveil the true contenders.

    Porte was relieved to survive Tuesday’s hot conditions in the Barossa, where temperatures exceeded 40C, without any problems and is looking forward to stage two.

    “I think if there’s fireworks on Stirling then it’s going to be a terribly hard day. I can’t wait for it,” Porte said.

    “I don’t know where my form is but the sensations were pretty good (on Tuesday).

    “It’s just nice to get it finished and get into an air-conditioned car and get home.

    “(Stage one) was a day like what I have never seen before. It was so hot.

    “I don’t think there was much to gauge from that, but it was bloody hot.”

    While Porte has made it clear he wants to win the Tour after twice finishing runner-up, this week is a step into the unknown.

    The People’s Choice Classic last Sunday was his first event since the Tasmanian crashed out of the Rio Olympics road race.

    The BMC rider’s main climbing rivals are Orica-Scott leader Esteban Chaves and fellow Colombian Sergio Henao (Sky).

    Australian Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) has won the Tour four times and is the defending champion, but the stage two course profile might be too tough for the star all-rounder.

    Orica-Scott sprint ace Caleb Ewan leads the race after winning the opening stage at Lyndoch in the Barossa.

    Ewan is well aware that he will lose the ochre jersey in stage two and he will work for Chaves and Gerrans.

    Tuesday’s blistering heat forced the Tour to shorten the stage – the first time that has happened since the event started in 1999.

    © AAP 2017

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