Richie Porte might be set on hanging up his wheels at the end of 2022 but the veteran rider still has some major ambitions as he embarks on his final campaign in the WorldTour.
The 36-year-old will kick off his season at the Santos Festival of Cycling before returning to Europe where he will link up with his Ineos Grenadiers teammates. His final race programme for 2022 remains unclear but after adding the Criterium du Dauphine to his palmares this year, the Australian is hoping to clinch a Tirreno-Adriactico win to his burgeoning collection of week-long stage race victories.
The third-placed finisher in the 2020 Tour de France is one of the most successful riders in the last decade when it comes to shorter format stage races with a Dauphine title, two editions each of Paris-Nice and the Tour Down Under, the Tour de Romandie, Volta a Catalunya and a Tour de Suisse victory to his name.
Assuming he races Tirreno-Adriatico in March, the experienced all-rounder would then build-up towards the Giro d’Italia.
The Italian Grand Tour saw the Australian burst onto the WorldTour scene back in 2010 with a spell in the maglia rosa, a white jersey win and seventh overall in his three-week debut. While a leadership role may not be on the cards at this stage, Porte could still play a hugely significant role in the team’s overall ambitions as they look to defend their 2021 Giro d’Italia win.
"The one thing the team (Ineos) really wants out of it is for me to enjoy my last year. It's also my plan," Porte told veteran Australian journalist Roger Vaughan in an interview with 7news.com.au.
"It's been a brilliant ride, but one more go at it. I'd like to be competitive still, otherwise, it's wasting our time as a family."
"If I can close the circle there, that would be a dream. It's a race I've always enjoyed,” he said in relation to a possible ride at the Giro d’Italia.
Along with his hope of remaining competitive, Porte will provide valuable experience to the young riders on the team. A veteran of 16 Grand Tour starts, Porte has covered almost every base during his long career, from leadership roles to domestique mountain duty for riders such a Alberto Contador and Chris Froome.
"It's nice to still be at the pointy end of bike races at 36 against these young kids who are so incredibly talented," he added.
"When you're watching the Tour in 10 years time, I can tell my son and daughter 'I rode with those guys'.
Porte’s full focus is on the 2022 campaign and getting everything out of his final season on the road but at some point, he will need to think about his life post-racing career.
It’s possible that he and his family could move to Australia and leave their European home behind but Porte at least has an idea on the sort of direction that he’d like to move in over the coming years.
"If there's a good, young talent, maybe I can help them to make that step to Europe with the contacts I've made. Help the kids who have slipped through the cracks of institutes - that's probably the role I'd like to play in cycling."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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