Richie Porte will not be racing Wednesday's Olympic Games time trial after crashing and breaking his scapula during the road race, but he believes his national and trade teammate Rohan Dennis is in with a shout of gold. Porte had been one of the main contenders for the medals in the race against the clock, but Dennis is now Australia's only hope for success on Wednesday.
"I think that Rohan has a big chance," said Porte. "He's a fantastic time triallist and I wouldn't be surprised if he wins gold, and that's the honest truth. When I had the bad luck the first time in the race on Saturday, Rohan took me back to the front, rode through a bunch of guys to get me there, so he's in fantastic form and I really hope he has some luck tomorrow and can win gold."
Porte has stuck around in Rio, having planned on racing today, and spoke to the press on the eve of the time trial with his right arm in a sling. In a season that has been littered with disappointments and frustrations, the cycling Gods had one more blow to deal in Saturday's road race. Technical problems on the cobbles blighted the early part of his race with mechanical issues on two of the four laps. As the race then reached its conclusion, Porte joined the long list of riders who came a cropper on the difficult Vista Chinesa descent.
"I'm a little bit sore I guess. I fractured a scapula and some ribs. I'm a little disappointed, I would have liked to be racing tomorrow [Wednesday] and have finished the road race but if you've seen the crash, I think I came out of it quite lightly," he said. "Obviously, my season is over now. I've got three or four months of not doing much other than focusing on recovery. It's not the way I wanted to end the season."
Soon after Porte's own incident, Vincenzo Nibali and Sergio Henao crashed out on the same corner while in contention for a medal. Both ended up with race-ending injuries. Worse was to come the following day with Annemiek van Vleuten hit the deck in the women's race, a crash that left her with fractured vertebrae. The litany of crashes led some to question the safety of the climb. Porte stopped short of calling it dangerous but said that the organisers had perhaps pushed the limits when designing the course.
"It was a tricky descent, quite a nasty descent, but I think in the racing that we do all year we deal with that in every race," he said. "Maybe we pushed it a bit too hard down there but, I guess, at the end of the day it's the riders that make the race dangerous. To be caught out on that corner, in terms of Nibali and Sergio Henao also, maybe it was a little bit too much."