January 23, 2016

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Australia's Richie Porte has won the fifth stage of the Tour Down Under for the third straight year, while compatriot Simon Gerrans retained the overall tour lead to stay on track for an unprecedented fourth title.

Gerrans finished 17th in Saturday's 151.5-kilometer (95-mile) stage from McClaren Vale to the peak of Old Willunga Hill, allowing him to retain a nine-second overall lead over Porte. Colombia's Sergio Henao was another two seconds back.

Gerrans, who rides for Australia's Orica GreenEDGE team, can clinch his fourth title in the Tour Down Under in Sunday's 90-kilometer (56-mile) final stage in central Adelaide.

The four-man breakaway group of Pim Ligthart and Lars Boom of the Netherlands, Nelson Oliveira of Portugal and Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg of South Africa led for much of Saturday's stage, but Porte caught them at the base of the three-kilometer (1.8-mile) climb up Old Willunga Hill when he made his decisive move.

Porte has won the Queen stage of the race every year since 2014. It was his first stage win for his new, U.S.-based Team BMC and earned him a 10-second time bonus.

Henao was second in the stage and Michael Woods of Canada was third.

The win lifted Porte from 10th place to second overall, but he is unlikely to be able to challenge Gerrans on Sunday in the final stage, which has no climbs and few attacking opportunities.

Gerrans said the fifth stage was difficult because he had to contend with multiple attacks, including the last by Porte. He said he had to carefully decide which to respond to and which to ignore.

''That's one thing I was trying to avoid there, panicking, going too hard, exploding,'' he said. ''If I just kept my cool and rode my own pace even when they attacked me in the final, it should be enough to hang on and that was just right.

''I expected Richie to attack and, boy, when he attacked he went fast. The guy is one of the best in the world at what he does.''

Gerrans is on the rebound after his 2015 season was wrecked by injuries. He missed the last Tour Down Under with a broken collarbone.

''Missing (the race) hurt a lot, but I feel like I have really made up for it now,'' Gerrans said.

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