By Greg Johnson
Australian youngster Richie Porte is returning to Europe tomorrow with the aim of a solid finish at the baby Giro d'Italia. Porte, who will ride for Monsummanese Grassi Mapei, is hoping another year in the amateur ranks will lead to a professional role for the 2010 season.
"I'm looking forward to riding with Monsummanese, it is my third year in Italy and it is exciting to be joining a team with so much history," said Porte.
Porte's most recent race was at Malaysia's Tour de Langkawi as a member of the Australian National Team. While working for team leader Jai Crawford, who finished second in the event, Porte put such a solid ride on the climb to Genting Highlands that he claimed 10th overall for himself as well.
"Langkawi was a great opportunity and we worked so well as a team which showed in the results," he said.
Langkawi wasn't the only solid ride Porte has posted this season. At January's Australian Open Road Championships the Tasmanian finished third in the elite men's time trial, behind Team Columbia's Michael Rogers and Garmin-Slipstream's Cameron Meyer.
"I am really looking forward to the 2009 season," said Porte. "I really hope to be able to show that I can ride at the top level and working with people like Andrea Tafi – I think it is a real possibility.
"The baby Giro d'Italia is back in 2009 and I would really like to focus on a strong general classification result there," he added. "I will be doing most of the amateur races throughout Italy and really want to get consistent results."