Richie Porte retains Paris-Nice race lead on penultimate stage for Team Sky
Richie Porte comfortably defended yellow at Paris-Nice as Team Sky kept control of the race on the penultimate stage.
Last Updated: 10/03/13 3:23pm
Resplendent in yellow the Tasmanian looked comfortable during the longest stage of the race as Team Sky set about consolidating Porte's 32-second overnight lead.
The team hit the front to keep tabs on a sizeable early break before snuffing out any dangerous moves on the run for home to put Porte in the box seat heading into the final stage.
A reduced bunch sprint in Nice saw Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) take the stage win as the Frenchman out-kicked world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) in an unorthodox finish.
Team Sky had kept control of proceedings heading onto the seafront before leaving it to the sprinters' teams with 1.5km to go, Porte safely finishing in the bunch.
All that remains is a Sunday showdown with an uphill time trial on the infamous Col d'Eze. Porte will look to defend Bradley Wiggins' win of 12 months ago while the fight will be on with Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) 32 seconds down, along with Chavanel and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) equal on time a further 10 back.
The last chance for a number of riders and teams to make their mark on the race, it was no surprise to see no less than 11 men head up the road early on.
The longest stage of the race at 220km, the parcours suited that of a breakaway but with best-placed rider Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ) sitting just 1:49 down on Porte, Team Sky were understandably not willing to give the escapees too much rope.
The peloton were met with five categorised climbs on the penultimate leg of the 'Race to the Sun', yet the weather had other ideas as it again subjected the riders to wet conditions in the early going.
Team Sky set about pegging the gap between the three and four-minute mark before Euskaltel-Euskadi began chipping in to help with the workload on the first category Cote de Cabris.
The race rose up again to the Col du Ferrier before a long descent through the fog on tricky wet road - break caught heading into the final 40km as Team Sky moved back to the front.
Vasil Kiryienka and David Lopez set about keeping a lid on any moves on the run into Nice before the reduced bunch fought it out amongst themselves.
Stage six result
1 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, 5:14.23
2 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC, same time
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar, st
4 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
5 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Leopard, st
6 Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun, st
7 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana, st
8 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling, st
9 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Sojasun, st
10 Alberto Losada (Spa) Katusha, st
1 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky, 29:40.31
2 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +32secs
3 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +42
4 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM, +42
5 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +49
6 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC, +52
7 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +53
8 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, +53
9 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, +54
10 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana, +1.06