Porte was docked two minutes by the race jury after he received an illegal wheel change from Orica-GreenEdge’s Simon Clarke, following a puncture in the closing kilometres of yesterday’s stage. He was unable to regain contact with the peloton and lost 47 seconds on the line. That dropped him to fourth overall, however he was later docked two minutes, leaving him 12th overall and 3:09 down on race leader Alberto Contador.
“I think I had better watch what I say... You might have had a different answer last night! Stating the obvious - it is frustrating but there is no point moaning or complaining,” Porte said in a statement on the Team Sky website, prior to stage 11.
“It was a technical infringement - although that was literally the last thing on my mind when it happened. As I said, all I wanted to do was to get to the finish line as fast as possible and limit my losses. It's pretty harsh really that Simon ended up with a two-minute penalty given he was left standing on the side of the road with just one wheel, but there you go.”
Porte has ridden strong Giro so far, and came out of the first rest day 22 seconds down on Alberto Contador, with Fabio Aru in second place on GC. The Australian had matched the pace during the opening mountain stages and with the long time trial to come on stage 14 had a realistic chance of donning the maglia rosa for the first time since 2010. Despite yesterday’s time loss on the road and subsequent deduction, Porte has used the episode to try and galvanize his team and those around him.
“I have to suck it up and we have to look forward as a team. It has been great to get so much support overnight. That means a lot. No-one should doubt how much I still want to win this race. There are still two weeks to go. It has been a great Giro so far. There is still a lot of racing ahead, some tough stages and this has really fired the whole team up to try to get the time back,” he said.
The incident happened with just over four kilometres remaining of the stage, meaning that Porte was outside the safety of the three-kilometre rule that prevents riders from losing time if they have a mechanical or are involved in a crash. Porte’s teammates were on the opposite side of the road when it happened. When they finally made it over to help their stricken leader Clarke had already stepped in, unwittingly costing the Team Sky rider more time.
“By the time the guys had got back to me Simon had already stopped and offered me his wheel. It was a spur of the minute thing,” he explained. “Alberto summed it up last night - all you are thinking about when something like that happens is 'how can I make sure I lose the least time possible'. I didn't even give it a thought that it might be breaking the rules. Everything was happening so quickly and I was just acting on adrenaline.”
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