By Greg Johnson in Adelaide
Australian youngster Richie Porte (UniSA-Australian National Team) is delighted with his ProTour debut, having led a 70 kilometre-long breakaway on the Tour Down Under's opening day. Porte attacked the peloton on the event's opening day today and spent the majority of the stage some six minutes off the front with breakaway companions Dimitri Champion (Bouygues Telecom) and Mickael Buffaz (Cofidis).
"It was a lot of fun," said a happy Porte after the stage. "Why not, I've got nothing to lose. We were just rolling along, not much happening, and I asked Matt Wilson what I should do and he said if I wanted to go breakaway then go breakaway. It's great having these guys around to work me up."
Porte earned his place in the UniSA-Australian National Team at last weekend's Australian Open Road Championships in Ballarat, Victoria. The composite team's final spot was reserved for the highest finishing Australian - who doesn't already have a professional contract - in the elite men's national championship race.
"I feel good, it was never really that hard. The gap went out to six minutes but I think the bunch were sitting up. But it's good, it's a good confidence booster."
UniSA-Australian National Team manager Dave Sanders was delighted with the youngster's efforts in the race's opening stage. "I'm pretty proud of him really, he's certainly earned his stripes today," said Sanders.
While Porte contemplated that the small break might just be able to hold its margin to the finish line, he admitted to knowing the peloton allowed the riders to take some time. "When we got that close to the finish and we were hovering, and then it came back before going back out I thought it might have a bit of a chance, but what hope do you really have," he said.
Porte, who is currently in talks with an Italian amateur team he's previously ridden for, thinks he will continue his day-one tactic throughout the remainder of the race. "I suppose it just depends on the legs, I think I should be right - these guys look after us pretty well so no excuses," he said.
Stage 1 was claimed in a sprint victory by Australia's Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole), after the small break was caught with three kilometres to go. The opening stage marked a special moment in ProTour history, with the stage the series' first to be held outside of European boarders.