Sunday, September 20, 2020

We feel as if he's won': Podium finish a Tour victory for Richie Porte

Richie Porte's journey into cycling as a teenager riding around Tasmania on a borrowed bike is set to culminate on Sunday when he becomes only the second Australian to stand on the podium at the Tour de France.

Porte (Trek-Segafredo) is third on the general classification behind Slovenians Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) ahead of Sunday's final and largely processional stage into Paris.

Storming home: Richie Porte of Team Trek Segafredo during the individual time trial on stage 20 of the 107th Tour de France.

Storming home: Richie Porte of Team Trek Segafredo during the individual time trial on stage 20 of the 107th Tour de France.CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES

The result for his parents, Ian and Penny, and the Australian cycling community is as good as a win after four years of fighting for the yellow jersey and overcoming blunders and bad luck.

"As I said to my husband this morning, that young man [Pogacar] is 22 tomorrow and I think Richie had only done one year as an amateur at that age. He didn't start until late so that's really the amazing thing," Penny Porte told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday.

"I don't think he got on a bike until he was about 15 or 16 and it wasn't his own bike, it was just a borrowed one. When you hear a lot of the cyclists speak, they've been riding since they were nine years old.

"He's a very private person. He doesn't always say what he's dreaming of, he just goes about his business and achieves it without talking too much and that's basically Richie.

We're just happy that he's happy. It's a dream come true. I think we feel as if he's won. That's honestly how we feel, just relief. There's so many ups and down in anyone's career and he's certainly had his fair share of those."

Porte jumped from fourth to third overall after placing third in stage 20 on Saturday - a 36.2km time trial, which Tour debutant Pogacar won to sensationally steal the yellow jersey from Roglic on the penultimate day.

The 35-year-old is set to grace the podium on the Champs Elysees in Paris nine years after Cadel Evans, at 34, became one of the oldest winners in the Tour's history and the first Australian to claim the yellow jersey.

Porte competed with a depleted squad in what was one of the most mountainous Tours in modern memory and his last as a title contender before he reverts to being a super domestique at a new team next season.

Riding high in the saddle: Australia's Richie Porte.

Riding high in the saddle: Australia's Richie Porte.CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES

The Tasmanian spent about the first half of his professional career famously assisting Tour champions Alberto Contador, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome to victory before leaving Team Sky at the end of 2015 to try and win the race himself.

Porte finished fifth overall in his first outright crack at the yellow jersey in 2016. He crashed out of the 2017 Tour after his former Sky teammates pointedly heaped pressure on him in the lead-up, playing on perceived mental weakness. Porte was unlucky to crash out again in 2018 and last season was just happy to make Paris in 11th.

Richie Porte