By Julien Pretot
NICE (Reuters) – Australian Richie Porte salvaged his Paris-Nice campaign when he powered to victory in Saturday’s seventh and penultimate stage ending up the col de la Couillole.
The BMC rider, who dropped out of contention in the second stage, attacked with 3.2 km left and crossed the line 21 seconds ahead of Spain’s Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo).
Dan Martin (Quick Step Floors) of Ireland was third after jumping ahead of Colombian Sergio Henao on the line, but the Colombian took the overall leader’s yellow jersey as Team Sky closed in on a fifth victory in six years in the Race to the Sun.
“It was such a sweet victory after the disaster we had earlier in the week,” said Porte. “I take my hat off to the team, they never lost faith in me.”
Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step Floors) started the day with the yellow jersey but cracked in the final climb, a 15.7-km ascent at an average gradient of 7.1 percent, and dropped to fifth overall.
Henao, who was dropped by Contador with 1.2 km left, leads Martin by 30 seconds and the twice Tour de France champion by 31 seconds.
Contador and Martin are expected to be on the attack in Sunday’s final stage, a punchy 115.5-km trek with two category-one climbs.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)