Australia’s Richie Porte entered his first Giro d’Italia this month with two simple goals: to learn and be of use to his team-mates. After three stages of the three-week long Grand Tour, Porte instead has found himself in second place on general classification and wearing the race’s white jersey, of best young rider.
His position behind Kazakh leader Alexandre Vinokourov has come thanks to a solid time trial on the first day, after which he’s managed to finish in the lead group on the following two road stages. It sounds easy enough, however the tricky conditions on those crash-riddled sprint stages has left overall contenders like Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) and Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) with some catching up to do – all thanks to being in the wrong place, and sometimes even the right place, at the wrong time.
“Obviously, the first three stages of the Giro have been hectic in every sense of the word,” Porte told team-saxobank.com. “First of all, it has been hectic because of all the crashes and accidents which have caused some of the overall favorites to suffer huge sit-backs.
“Luckily, I have a strong and loyal team around me to keep me out of trouble and I really appreciate their efforts in the front of the field,” he added. “Thanks to them, I have been on the podium every day to receive the white jersey – something I never would have dreamed possible in my first season as a professional.”
Porte’s position at his first Grand Tour since turning professional with Saxo Bank in January is the continuation of a dream run for the Tasmanian. Just days before the Giro commenced in Amsterdam, Porte claimed his first ProTour stage victory with a surprise win at the Tour of Romandie’s time trial.
His prowess in the time trial will come in handy later today when he faces the next hurdle in his Grand Tour debut: a team time trial. Porte hopes to not only finish the Italian tour, but to emulate team-mate Andy Schleck in claiming the final white jersey when the race reaches Verona later this month.
“Now, my goal is to keep it. I know it's going to take a lot of hard work and a solid portion of long-lasting luck but I intend to fight for it, just like Andy did a few years back,” he said. “Tomorrow's team time trial naturally will be crucial but with a powerful combination of young and experienced riders like Nicki [Sørensen] and Baden [Cooke], I think we have a fair chance of making a good result.”