Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) may have taken the headlines after powering to victory in stage 3 of Santos Tour Down Under Thursday, but Rob Power’s confident ride to second-place will feel like a victory in itself for the 24-year-old Australian.
Power leads a youthful Sunweb team in Australia alongside 23-year-old countryman Jai Hindley. After stage 3, Power has found himself in third place overall, just nine seconds back on race-leader Porte. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) sits between them in second place.
“I worked really hard in the off-season and came to the race in good condition,” said Power after the stage. “I knew I was in good shape for the race and the team’s been supporting me here.”
Power took second place on Thursday’s stage after Porte rode clear at the base of the final climb. Power chose his moment wisely, letting Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) power the chase group into the headwind before nipping around the Brit in the final meters to take second place.
It’s a promising start to the season for Power and his Sunweb team, who face its first year without figurehead Tom Dumoulin after the Dutchman transferred to Jumbo-Visma. The transfer marks the end of Dumoulin’s eight-season spell with the team, who has centered its race programs around supporting the Dutchman in the grand tours.
Without Dumoulin, Sunweb needs new leaders. Having ridden in support roles at both the Giro and Vuelta in 2019, Power is one that the team will be looking to step up in the coming years.
Tour Down Under provides a good testing ground for Sunweb’s next generation thanks to its smooth roads, favorable weather and calm parcours. Team Sunweb is going to use the opportunity to the full.
“Rob [Power]’s had a go at it and took a great second place on the stage, and it puts us into a position now to fight for the podium at the end of the week,” said coach Luke Roberts.
Power will be scrapping for overall honors with Porte and Mitchelton-Scott’s pair of leaders, Yates and Impey. With two rolling/sprint stages Friday and Saturday, the GC riders know that the fight to the top of Willunga Hill on the closing stage, Sunday, will likely decide the overall.
“Richie is looking good and he knows Willunga better than anyone,” said Power. “It’s still a long race and Richie looks good, but we’re going to give it a crack in the next stages and all the boys are motivated for it.”