Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) won the bunch kick at the end of stage 8 Saturday in Bellinzona, where the peloton navigated six laps of a technical 21.5km circuit, bringing back the final breakaway survivors within kilometres of the finish.
A ballistic pace on the final lap saw the peloton strung out in single file, but with the help of teammates Greg Van Avermaet and Stefan Küng, Porte was well positioned near the front of the group and sprinted to 12th place to preserve his GC advantage.
“That was such a nervous and stressful stage,” Porte said. “It looked like today went without any problems, but that’s thanks to my fantastic team here. BMC Racing Team has been great all week and today was another impressive display from them to put me in a good position in the hectic finish. It was one of those days where you are just happy to get it over and done with.”
Sunday’s stage avoids the nearby mountains but is not entirely flat, either. At 34km it will provide a good challenge for Porte and the other GC contenders and a last opportunity to shake up the final GC podium.
“The race has gone really well so far, but it’s not over until it’s over,” Porte said. “Nairo Quintana had a fantastic day yesterday, and I think he could easily have another good day tomorrow, likewise with Wilco Kelderman.
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