Aussie cycling great Richie Porte was awarded the Key to the City of Onkaparinga last month, before the final stage of the 2019 Santos Tour Down Under.
The award was announced prior to the race in recognition of Porte conquering the gruelling Willunga Hill stage an unprecedented five consecutive times.
History would have to be re-written however, as he once again claimed victory of the stage for an astounding sixth consecutive year. 2019 marked also marked the third occasion Porte has finished second overall, having also taken out the overall victory of the Tour in 2017.
“It’s a hard race for someone like me to win, with just one uphill finish but I came here with my new team and the boys were fantastic all week and today,” Porte said at the finish.
“Hats off to Daryl Impey but to win on Willunga for a sixth time is a great feeling. It’s a great way to start the year with a new team.”
The Key to the City is the council’s most prestigious award, recognising exceptional, outstanding achievement. Porte was nominated for the award by previous Onkaparinga Mayor, Lorraine Rosenberg. The 33-year-old Tasmanian of team Trek-Segafredo, who’s also a recurring favourite in the Tour de France, said it was an honour to receive the Key to the City.
“I’m very grateful to the City of Onkaparinga to recognise me in this way,” Porte said.
“I love starting my racing season here every year because it’s such a great race in a beautiful part of the world.”
City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said Porte’s six consecutive stage wins in the region’s scenic vistas and historic townships was a monumental achievement.
“For the past 20 years the Santos Tour Down Under has put us on the world stage, with Willunga Hill especially helping break attendance records and delivering significant economic benefits to the region,” Ms Thompson said.
“Richie’s incredible efforts have become synonymous with this beautiful yet gruelling stage of the race, helping bring international coverage to our area.”
The City of Onkaparinga has traditionally hosted Stage 5 of the race, but for the first time in the race’s history, the finish was moved from the Adelaide CBD to Onkaparinga.
The Be Safe Be Seen MAC Stage 6 which took place on Sunday January 20, began in McLaren Vale and travelled through Snapper Point, Aldinga Beach and Willunga before its thrilling crescendo and Porte’s victory atop Willunga Hill.
Last year the stage attracted 144,000 visitors, the highest for any stage, and generated more than $14.6 million of economic benefit to the Onkaparinga region.
The Key to the City has only been awarded by the City of Onkaparinga twice – once to previous mayor Ray Gilbert and the other to NASA Astronaut Dr Andy Thomas. Porte will also be recognised on an honour board displayed in the Council Chamber.