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No final Willunga hoorah for Richie Porte

Tasmanian veteran races Willunga Hill for final time as a pro at the Santos Festival of Cycling, finishing 10th behind the break.

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There was no number eight for Richie Porte in his final racing ascent of Willunga Hill.

The so-called “King of Willunga Hill” took on the short Adelaide ascent one last time Saturday but fell short of being coronated once again.

Porte, who was racing for Team Garmin Australia, placed 10th on the Willunga summit finish of stage 3 of the Santos Festival of Cycling on Saturday. Angus Lyons (ARA Pro Racing) won out of the break while James Whelan (Bridgelane) secured the GC.

Saturday’s race was the Tasmanian veteran’s final racing ascent of the iconic hill as he rides toward retirement at the end of this year.

Porte first hit the Willunga climb in 2008 and went on to secure six consecutive wins in his seven victories atop the steep summit.

Throwback gallery: Porte wins on Willunga in 2017

“It was quite emotional for me,” Porte said after the stage Saturday. “This has been my race, this is where it all started for me, all those memories came flooding back from when I started here 14 years ago. I just enjoyed it.

“It was sort of a blessing in disguise that the race was up the road and I could sit back and just enjoy myself more. It was fantastic coming up the climb for the last time as a racer.”

Saturday’s race was likely Porte’s final pro competition on Australian soil as he heads toward his final season with Ineos Grenadiers.

He reconfirmed that there would be no Tour de France send-off this summer as he focuses his attentions on riding alongside Richard Carapaz at the Giro d’Italia.

Also read: Porte confirms no Tour de France return

“The big goal for me is the Giro d’Italia,” Porte said. “I’ll be 37 tomorrow but I still feel there’s a bit of fuel in the tank to have another good year. I want to go out with a bang, not a whimper.”

You can read CyclingTips‘ full report from stage 3 of the Santos Festival of Cycling here.