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Check out Richie Porte's new Willunga Hill Strava KoM

Joe Robinson
27 Jan 2020

The Tasmanian didn't win the stage but did set a new climbing record at the Tour Down under

First-year WorldTour pro Matt Holmes became the unlikely protagonist to topple Richie Porte's reign on Willunga Hill. For the first time since 2014, the Tour Down Under's Queen Stage finished with a different winner as the 26-year-old from Wigan managed to roll the eventual overall race winner in the final the 150 metres. 

It was a fine win for Holmes who made a sizeable dent in his first-ever WorldTour race, proving that this jump to cycling's top flight is certainly within his capabilities.

And making the Lotto-Soudal rider's performance even more impressive was that Porte's ascent of Willunga Hill was technically his best ever.

The 34-year-old Tasmanian set a new climbing record on Willunga Hill last Sunday in a performance dominant enough to at least bag him a second career Down Under title.

Granted, Holmes started the climb of Willunga Hill before Porte, but to show the legs to stick to his wheel once caught proved Holmes was on a very good day.

Knowing that bonus seconds could be vital towards the overall title, Porte made moves early on the slopes to shift race leader Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), a tactic that worked.

Porte went with 1.5km to go and he also benefited from catching the remnants of the breakaway, something he did not have in 2018 or 2019.

Looking at Strava, we can see that Porte shaved five seconds off the 'Old Willunga Hill' 2.9km segment, improving his time of 6:39 in 2015 to an impressive 6:34 for 2020. This time also saw Porte scale the 7% climb with a mighty average speed of 27.4kmh.

What's more, he broke the seven-minute barrier on the climb for the first in three years bettering his 2019 ascent by a full 28 seconds.

Analysing his Strava further, we can see that Porte's inroads came from a fast start to the climb followed by an explosive middle with the final kilometre slower than previous ascents.

In fact, for the segment called 'Willunga Hill First KM', Porte knocked seven seconds off his 2015 best time and for the 1.06km segment labelled 'Willunga Hill Middle Leg', Porte rode a full 15 seconds quicker than his previous best in 2015. 

This net saving of 22 seconds was then enough to offset the fact that he rode the 'Willunga Hill Final 1km' segment a full 14 seconds slower than his best time of five years previous.

Strava also shows 2020 was a quick ascent for all as eventual podium finisher Simon Geschke and Team Ineos's Dylan van Baarle also bettered the previous KoM time with 6:43 and 6:45 respectively. 

This impressive performance from Porte was certainly an early-season marker of form but cannot be read into too much as often with Porte bad luck and misfortune often catch up with him later in the season.