Richie Porte (Team Saxo Bank) confirmed during the Giro d'Italia's opening stage that he's a great time triallist in the making as the 25-year-old Australian finished in sixth place, five seconds behind winner Bradley Wiggins. In addition to a top ten finish in the first stage of his Grand Tour debut, Porte will wear the white jersey of the best young rider during stage 2 from Amsterdam to Utrecht.
The biggest surprise came from the split times. Porte only clocked the 26th fastest time after 4.1 kilometres but was the fastest from km 4.1 until the end at km 8.4. In the second half Porte rode three seconds faster than his compatriot Cadel Evans and four seconds faster than race winner Bradley Wiggins.
"I don't know why there is such a difference," said Porte. "I was a bit nervous at the start. It might be because of my crash last week. Or maybe I rode too conservative. I guess I have to bang my head against the wall."
Although Porte knew he was time trialing well this season, having won the 23.4km race against the clock at the Tour of Romandie last week, to ride a prologue was something different. "I'm not a prologue rider like Brad McGee was," he said of his current coach at Saxo Bank. "But now I really know that I can be up there with the big guys in any kind of time trial."
Tomorrow, Porte will start stage 2 wearing the white jersey of best young rider on his shoulders. "This is incredible," he said. "It's a big dream I guess."
Porte suspects that the two Dutch riders who are second and third on the best young rider classification, Rabobank's Jos van Emden and Tom Stamsnijder, will be motivated to race on home soil and will contest the bonus sprints to gain precious seconds back on the white jersey holder.
"I'm ready for a good fight," Porte said.