Richie Porte’s comment on Monday that he almost feared the sprint stages of the Giro d’italia more than the race’s mountain stages proved uncannily prophetic on stage 10 as the Team Sky leader lost 47 seconds due to a late puncture.
Compounding his bad luck, Porte’s front wheel flat happened in the closing kilometres of an ultra-fast run in to the finish in Forli, just at a point when the sprinters’ teams were already going at full tilt to try and pull back the break of the day. Luckily help was at hand with Orica GreenEdge's Simon Clarke providing his own front wheel.
Aided by a long line of Team Sky teammates and two member of theto keep the gap to a minimum, and weaving their way through riders dropped from the speeding main bunch, Porte was able to limit the gap to 47 seconds, crossing the line in 150th places. Overall he dropped to 1:09 behind Contador, and is now one place off the provisional podium, in fourth.
After the stage, Porte paused to talk to reporters at the Team Sky bus briefly and although he recognised it was a setback, he insisted that “I think everybody’s going to have a bit of bad luck over 21 days.”
“The first thing I did was to try and hold the bike up, it [the puncture] happened at a roundabout and that’s it, a bit of bad luck. I think everybody’s going to have a bit of bad luck over 21 days. We’ll just have to see what happens now.”
“There’s not much you can do…it’s a strange one, you’ve been fighting for one or two seconds and then you have a little bit of bad luck. But there’s a long way to go.”
“It was nice to see my team stop and help me and then Simon Clarke and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), you know, [they are] good mates, helping me as well. You have to take the positives out of it, my legs felt great and I live to see another day.”
After a first nine days which Sky view as ideal for the Australian, Porte’s setback gives even greater importance to Saturday’s time trial, likely to be a point in the race where the Sky leader can shine strongly.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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