COL D'EZE, France (AP) — Australian rider Richie Porte won the Paris-Nice race after a dominant victory on the final time trial stage on Sunday, while promising American rider Andrew Talansky showed his potential with a second-place overall finish.
Porte was in the leader's yellow jersey overnight and only needed to protect his lead. But he attacked from the start and dominated his rivals on the uphill time trial, finishing a massive 23 seconds ahead of Talansky.
The 28-year-old Porte posted a time of 19 minutes, 16 seconds over the 9.6-kilometers from Nice to Col d'Eze to become the first Australian to win the race. "I can't believe it, the first Aussie to win such a big race," said Porte, who shook hands with Talansky as the American was warming down on a stationary bike. "It's just an honor to have my name up there with Bradley Wiggins, Tony Martin, all the big champions."
Porte follows in the footsteps of Sky teammate Wiggins, who won the race last year before going on to win the Tour de France. But after coming relatively late into professional cycling, he ruled out any likelihood of becoming a main contender on the Tour later this year.
"I'm still doing my apprenticeship, I'm still learning from Bradley and Chris Froome, so I don't expect to go to the Tour and ride for general classification," he said. "I'm in a good place at the moment and don't really want to change anything. ... Whatever happens we're going to have a hell of a team for the Tour de France."
Talansky was 32 seconds behind Porte overnight, but the Garmin-Sharp rider slipped further behind to finish 55 seconds adrift in the final standings. "I think I'm completely satisfied, I exceeded my own expectations and the team as a whole exceed the expectations we had coming in the race," Talansky, who won the third stage in a sprint finish, told The Associated Press by telephone. "Winning a stage was not something I had really expected, and riding in the yellow jersey for two days was all made possible by the team."
Talansky won the Tour de l'Ain in France last year and finished seventh overall in the Spanish Vuelta in his first participation in a major race. He will ride in his first Tour de France later this year and is targeting a top-10 finish.
"Just getting to ride down the Champs-Elysees would be a personal success, but obviously I am going there with personal goals," the 24-year-old Talansky said. "On a basis of pure climbing and time-trialing, I have no doubt in my mind I can (finish top 10). You saw Tejay (van Garderen) got fifth last year, so really everything's possible. A few years down the line the podium's the goal, or maybe before that."
Garmin-Sharp team manager Jonathan Vaughters, a former Tour rider, thinks Talansky's raw ability and attitude can take him far. "Andrew is an amazing talent, but not in a calculated way," Vaughters told the AP in an email. "He's emotional and he pushes himself harder than any cyclist I've seen. That's why I nicknamed him 'pit bull.' Once he latches his jaws onto something, he isn't letting go. Ever."
French rider Jean-Christophe Peraud finished third overall, 1:21 behind, despite coming off his bike, and American cyclist Van Garderen was 1:44 back in fourth spot.