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Richie Porte (Saxo Bank), leader of the best young rider classification, has been a revelation in this Giro edition.
Australian sensation keeps white jersey and top three placing
At his first attempt in a Grand Tour, Richie Porte remains near the top of the Giro d'Italia standings during the third week after producing a solid ride up the Plan de Corones.
He finished 17th and lost only 1:10 to overall favourite Ivan Basso, who now sits just nine seconds ahead of him on general classification while compatriot Cadel Evans remains behind him in fourth place.
More than his position overall, Porte was concerned about the performance of the other contenders for the white jersey of best young rider. "I'm ahead of the other young guys, right?" he asked after descending the podium steps with the traces of rose lipstick on his cheeks to which he's become accustomed... at least until he rejoins his team-mates in the Saxo Bank team bus.
Porte scored a better time than Robert Kiserlovski and Bauke Mollema who finished 31st and 29th respectively. He's 6:21 ahead of the Croatian overall and 12:40 ahead of the Dutchman while Dario Cataldo has moved up thanks to his ninth place at Plan de Corones but he's 11:34 down on Porte in the best young rider classification.
"Uphill time trials aren't really my forte," Porte told Cyclingnews. "But I rode comfortably all day and I'm happy to consolidate my white jersey. I'm having a fantastic Giro d'Italia.
"Thanks to my team, I race stress free. I think this is the most important. I had no idea how I could time trial in the third week of a stage race but I think I've got the legs to do it.
"To bring this white jersey home is a major goal. With teammates like Chris Anker Sørensen who is dedicating himself for me in the climbs, I can be confident."
Porte could well make the top 10 - if not better - in his first attempt at a Grand Tour. "I love my new job," he said with a large smile. "For the GC, realistically, there are big guys chasing behind me. It's gonna be a pretty big war on the road. My position gives me the liberty to not go into the red."
And while the Australian wore the maglia rosa for three days during the Giro's second week, the maglia bianca is the jersey he's after and for good reason - he's a very realistic chance of taking it for keeps on Sunday in Verona.