Australian News

Richie Porte climbs higher on Tour de France general classification as Miguel Angel Lopez wins epic mountain stage

Australia’s Richie Porte gritted his teeth and delivered a brave performance to finish fifth on the most difficult stage yet of this year’s Tour de France which finished at the summit of Col de la Loze.

The fifth placing on the stage moved Porte up from sixth overall to fourth in the general classification as Colombia’s Miguel Angel Lopez took advantage of the high altitudes so familiar to him in his native country and sprinted clear in the final kilometres to take the stage victory.

The win moved him into third position overall behind yellow jersey wearer Primoz Roglic, who was second on the stage ahead of his nearest rival and fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.

“I feel emotional because of the work done at home with my family, my wife, my son, I dedicate this victory to them,” Lopez said.


Lopez moved to within 1:26 of Roglic, who extended his lead over Pogacar to 57 seconds after the two engaged in an epic duel to the finish line, in which Roglic seemed to break his younger countryman’s spirit.

The pair, along with Porte and Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma teammate Sepp Kuss, had already engaged in a tough battle that started during the final ascent, which included gradients of 24 per cent on the final 21 kilometre climb.

“It was again a good day for us,” Roglic said.

“Of course, I always want to win but I gained some time and I saw that others had problems. I knew I could gain time today and that’s what we did.”

Painful climb to the finish

With four kilometres to go Kuss took off when the man who had led for much of the day — Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz — came back to the small chasing pack, but he was followed by Lopez who had far more speed.

Commentators speculated at the time that it was a poor move for Kuss to leave his teammate and yellow jersey wearer but Roglic confirmed it was all part of a plan.

“Also, the others tried to chase him back and it helped me realise many guys around me were struggling.”

Australia's Richie Porte wearing white rides up a French peak, mouth open as another cyclist smiles from behind.
Richie Porte pushes through the pain as he battles Sepp Kuss to the finish line on stage 17 of the 2020 Tour de France.(Reuters: Stephane Mahe)


Porte did well just to hang on for as long as he did, having been dropped a few metres off the back of Roglic and Pogacar as they sought to jostle for second, but on multiple occasions the Australian managed to get back on their tail.

However with two kilometres to go the Slovenians showed their class and finally dropped the dogged Australian, who eventually crossed the line with American Kuss.

Porte finished the stage in fourth overall on the general classification 3’05” behind Roglic and 1’39” behind third-placed Lopez

Fans ignore COVID-19 protocols

Masked Tour de France fans converge as leading riders make a large climb.
Tour de France fans crowd around Tadej Pogacar as he makes the final climb to the stage 17 finish.(Supplied: SBS Television)

Present for the stage was French President Emmanuel Macron, but he was far from the only one and it would be hard to imagine that Tour organisers were happy with scenes that were beamed across the world as the leaders made the final climb.

This year’s Tour set against the backdrop of the global coronavirus pandemic has seen riders frequently tested and the usual crowds sparse, but that was not the case as large numbers of cycling fans closed in on the road and leaders during the final climb.

After the stage Mr Macron told reporters: “It’s extremely important to show that we can live with the virus.”


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Local News - Victoria

General pulls rank on Premier’s quarantine claims

Breakouts from two quarantine hotels in Melbourne were identified in scientific evidence presented to the Coate inquiry on Tuesday as the source of nearly all cases in Victoria’s COVID-19 second wave, now responsible for more than 300 deaths.

Dr Charles Alpren, an epidemiologist with Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services, told the hotel quarantine inquiry that 90 per cent of infections since late May could be traced to the Rydges on Swanston hotel.

Subsequent outbreaks at the Stamford Plaza hotel were responsible for the remainder of second-wave cases, Dr Alpren told the hearing.

Premier Daniel Andrews has stood by his claim that no ADF help was on offer for hotel quarantine.

Premier Daniel Andrews has stood by his claim that no ADF help was on offer for hotel quarantine.Credit:Simon Schluter

General Frewen’s testimony confirmed a timeline of events published last week by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald setting out the ADF’s standing offer to help with hotel quarantine from March 27, the day the national cabinet agreed to back the mandatory quarantine program.

It contradicted what Mr Andrews said last week when he told a Victorian parliamentary hearing that “ADF support was not on offer” for hotel quarantine.

Mr Andrews told the hearing that it was “fundamentally incorrect to assert that there were hundreds of ADF staff on offer and somehow, someone said no”.


Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the Lieutenant General’s account showed that the Premier had provided “false evidence” to the parliamentary hearing.

“A decorated officer has confirmed that the ADF did offer Victoria support, including for security in hotel quarantine,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This proves that the Premier gave false evidence to the Parliament when he claimed this did not occur. A Premier willing to lie to Victorians can’t be trusted to lead us through this pandemic. It’s time for him to go.”

Mr Andrews said he stood by his previous comments.

General Frewen was questioned about the ADF’s willingness to support Victoria’s quarantine regime by Liberal senator James Paterson.

Senator Paterson: “To be very clear here, ADF assistance was available to Victoria on an equal basis as every other state throughout this crisis, was it not?”

Lieutenant General Frewen: “Yes Senator.”

Senator Paterson: “And if the Victorian government did not take up that assistance in the same way that the NSW government did or the Queensland government did or indeed, the West Australian government did, that is a matter for the Victorian government, isn’t it?”


Lieutenant General Frewen: “Yes Senator.”

The taskforce commander’s testimony also conflicts with a statement issued last week by Emergency Management Victoria Commissioner Andrew Crisp.

On the day of Mr Andrews’ appearance before the parliamentary committee, Mr Crisp said: “Representatives of the ADF participated in the Operation Soteria planning and co-ordination meetings on 27 and 28 March 2020. During these discussions I did not seek nor did representatives of the ADF offer assistance as part of the hotel quarantine program.”

General Frewen told the Senate that on March 27, the ADF “stood to” 100 personnel (put them on standby) in Victoria to help establish the mandatory hotel quarantine regime announced that day by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“In the PM’s offer, the ADF, it was made plain, would be available to all of the states and territories to help with whatever arrangements were put in place for quarantine and quarantine enforcement,” the general said.

Mr Crisp referred The Age to his previous statement. “My position has not changed,” he said.

General Frewen said the ADF offer for help was quickly taken up by the NSW and Queensland governments, with the ADF contingent in NSW swelling to 360 personnel within the first week of the hotel quarantine regime.

ADF personnel were also used in Western Australia’s quarantine hotels.

Premier Andrews told the parliamentary committee that ADF support in NSW was limited to transporting returned travellers from airports to quarantine hotels.

General Frewen said ADF personnel were used in transport and baggage handling, concierge work in hotel foyers, enforcement of quarantine rules for hotel guests and even room service.

He said there had been 14 requests by Victoria for ADF assistance since the COVID-19 crisis began. Of these, only one – a request for aerial surveillance – had been refused. A further two requests were withdrawn by Victoria and 11 had been approved.

General Frewen said one of the withdrawn requests was a June 24 request by Mr Crisp for 850 ADF personnel to help with hotel quarantine. He said the ADF was given no explanation for why Mr Crisp rescinded the request the next day.

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