The roads that the famed Giro d’Italia will travel next month are a long way from those in Tasmanian where Richie Porte trained in his early cycling days. Yet Porte said it will still feel like home, with the rider making his Grand Tour debut at the event after being named in Saxo Bank’s team roster.
“I am really looking forward to my first Grand Tour,” he told Cyclingnews. “For me the Giro is important as Italy is really where my cycling career started, so when the race gets down into Tuscany it will feel almost like home roads.”
Despite being a strong general classification squad, Saxo Bank will line up in Amsterdam on May 8 without any of its big overall contenders. That will see riders like Porte working for sprint finishes instead, with fellow Australian Baden Cooke hopeful of seeing a return to Grand Tour glory.
“We suffered a bit of bad luck when Chris Anker Sorensen broke his collarbone in a crash thus ruling out out general classification hopes but on paper we have a young team but hopefully we can animate the race at some stage,” said Porte. “If I play my cards well I would love to be able to fight for a stage win somewhere but realistically I will be going there to improve as a bike rider, I know I will be suffering in the latter part of the race.”
Professional cycling has been a steep learning curve for Porte, something he expects will continue at next month’s Giro. The Tasmanian only started focusing on cycling in 2006 at the age of 21, a relatively late start, having previously focused on triathlons.
“A successful Grand Tour debut for me will be to come out of the race as a better rider,” he added. “It would be nice to have a go in a stage, if I can be in a move in the final week I will think of it as a successful debut.”
Porte will have just a handful of days off between the Tour de Romandie, where he’s currently competing, and the Giro d’Italia’s start next Sunday.