ADELAIDE, Australia -- Daryl Impey finished just close enough in Saturday's penultimate stage of the Tour Down Under cycling race to take the leader's jersey on a count back from the defending champion Richie Porte.
Bidding to become the first rider to win the Tour Down Under in consecutive years, Porte took out the grueling 151.5-kilometer (94-mile) stage from McLaren Vale to the summit of Willunga Hill, which normally decides the Tour winner, when he crossed the finish line eight seconds ahead of Impey.
But the margin left the two riders tied for the lead with the same overall time, with Impey awarded the leader's ochre jersey on a count back.
"I'm stoked, I can't believe it," Impey said. "I put in a lot of work for this race, but I never thought I'd be in the leader's jersey."
Sunday's final stage will be held over a total of 90 kilometers (56 miles) on a circuit in the streets of Adelaide. The flat terrain generally does not allow leading riders to gain an advantage over their rivals, although there are 16 seconds in time bonuses available in the two intermediate sprints, as well as a 10-second bonus for the stage winner.
An exhausted Porte conceded his chances of winning were slim and said he was disappointed not to have grabbed the outright lead after his BMC teammate Rohan Dennis led out on the final climb to put him in position to win the stage.
"I think it's probably the hardest time that I've done this climb," he said. "It really hurt this time.
"For me it's unfortunate but Daryl's ridden a fantastic tour, he's ridden smart. It was all up to me to put more time into him, but I wasn't quite up to finishing the job off."
Tom-Jelte Slagter of the Netherlands, the 2013 Tour Down Under winner, is third overall, 16 seconds adrift, while Slovakia's triple world champion Peter Sagan, who led after the fourth stage, fell back to 33rd place.
Sagan dropped off the pace less than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the finish line. Porte, employing the same tactics that had served him so well for the Tour's Queens' stage in previous years, made his move with 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) to go, but was immediately tracked by Jay McCarthy, who began the stage in third place overall, 9 seconds behind Sagan.
Porte left McCarthy behind with a second burst of speed, and broke away from his rivals to lead over the summit and through to the finish line, then waited to see how far behind Impey was.
As the clock ticked down, the South African crossed the line eight seconds later, unsure whether he had done enough to take the lead.
"Always in the back of my mind I knew I had to do a big sprint to the end," Impey said. "And when I saw Jay just in front of us, I thought there goes the podium if I don't catch them.
"I didn't know where Richie was ... he was in his own race and at the line it was so close I thought maybe there was a chance."