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Richie Porte wins up Willunga Hill as Sarah Gigante smashes QOM at Santos Festival of Cycling

While the world is unrecognisable compared to this time last year, some semblance of normality has returned as Richie Porte won atop Willunga Hill on the third stage of the Santos Festival of Cycling.

The re-imagined, scaled-down Tour Down Under, saw the peloton set off from McLaren Vale for an 88.2km route, taking in two laps around Willunga before the summit finish climb.

Riding for Garmin-Australia during the four-day race, Porte accelerated up Willunga Hill after the breakaway had been pulled back, and looked to be riding away from the rest until his 20-year-old team-mate, Luke Plapp, rode onto his wheel.

Porte eventually crossed the line first, Plapp applauding him, with Luke Durbridge (BikeExchange) third on the stage and cementing his overall lead.

 

“The rider of the day was easily Plappy,” Porte said after the finish, “he could have easily come around me but he didn’t”.

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Meanwhile, Sarah Gigante attacked twice on Willunga Hill in the women’s race, finishing a minute ahead of Lucy Kennedy, extending her lead over her in the general classification to 3-11.

Gigante’s effort was enough to see her smash the Strava QOM by 1-10, setting a new best time of 8-13 with an average speed of 21.9km/h up the climb, while Porte’s 6-34 from last year’s Tour Down Under still holds the KOM.

This was Porte’s seventh victory up Willunga Hill, with Lotto-Soudal’s Matthew Holmes having beaten the Tasmanian on the final stage six of the 2020 Tour Down Under, with Porte going on to claim only his second overall victory at his home stage race.

The fourth and final stage of the Santos Festival of Cycling will be an hour-long criterium in Adelaide’s Victoria Park, with both Durbridge and Gigante expected to hold their leads in the general classification and claim the overall victory.

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