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Porte wins Australian Cyclist of the Year award

LA PLANCHE FRANCE SEPTEMBER 19 Richie Porte of Australia and Team Trek Segafredo during the 107th Tour de France 2020 Stage 20 a 362km Individual Time Trial stage from Lure to La Planche Des Belles Filles 1035m ITT TDF2020 LeTour on September 19 2020 in La Planche France Photo by Stuart FranklinGetty Images
Richie Porte during the stage 20 time trial at the 2020 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Richie Porte has been named the AusCycling Cyclist of the Year for 2020 with the Tasmanian awarded the Sir Hubert Opperman Medal after becoming just the second  rider from the nation to finish on the Tour de France podium.

It is the first time the 36-year-old rider has received Australia's top cycling award, which is known as the ‘Oppy’, but it is no surprise that he took the honours as the accolades have continued to flow for the first Australian to stand on the podium since Cadel Evans won in 2011. Porte, who returned to Ineos Grenadiers this year, recently received the Cycling Tasmania inaugural International Medal and the key to the city of Launceston, but this latest recognition of his achievement is one that has long been on the radar.

"For me, this is a massive privilege and an honour to get this award finally," said Porte, who received the 64th Sir Hubert Opperman Medal. "It has been something I have always wanted to do, so to take it out finally, it is of great satisfaction."

"When you look at the future of Australian cycling, there are so many good riders coming through. So to have my name up there now alongside cyclists like Cadel Evans, Rohan Dennis, Mat Hayman and Caroline Buchanan, it is an absolute privilege and honour, so thank you to everybody."

Porte has placed as high as fifth in the Tour de France before but stepped up on to the podium in 2020 in his tenth appearance at the Grand Tour after delivering a powerful time-trial on the second last stage. That moved him up that one crucial spot on the overall to third. Porte, who was racing with Trek-Segafredo in 2020, also started the season with a win on home soil by taking out the Tour Down Under.

Team BikeExchange rider Grace Brown claimed the Female Road Cyclist of the Year award after coming second at the Women’s WorldTour race, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and then shortly after taking her first European victory at Brabantse Pijl. The 28-year-old rider also came fifth in the time trial at the 2020 UCI Road World Championships.

Steph Morton was named the Female Track Cyclist of the Year after winning two medals at the 2020 UCI Track World Championships in Germany while Nathan Hart, Matthew Richardson and Thomas Cornish were jointly awarded Male Track Cyclist of the Year after securing bronze in the team sprint.     

The Female Mountain Biker of the Year category went to Rebecca McConnell after she took bronze at the 2020 UCI World Championships in Austria while Jack Moir won the Male Mountain Biker of the Year after finishing on the podium twice during his debut Enduro World Series season.

Anthony Dean and Saya Sakakibara took the BMX Racing Rider of the Year awards, after each claimed a UCI World Cup silver medal while Natalya Diehm was crowned the Female BMX Freestyle Rider of the Year. The Male BMX Freestyle Rider of the Year went to rainbow jersey winner Brandon Loupos, who also finished the year third in the UCI rankings.   

In the Para-cycling categories, Meg Lemon (C4) and Stuart Jones (T2) were crowned the Para-Cyclists of the Year for Road after each celebrated dual 2020 Federation University Road National Championships gold. The Para-Cyclist of the Year for Track awards went to Emily Petricola, who won three rainbow jerseys in one day at the 2020 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, and David Nicholas, who claimed a fourth straight individual pursuit rainbow jersey.

There was also a new category among the 2020 awards – which covered the performance period from November 1, 2019, to December 20, 2020 – and that was the inaugural ESport Cyclist of the Year.  This was claimed by Sarah Gigante (Team TIBCO – SVB), who took silver at the UCI Cycling Esports World Championships, and Israel Cycling Academy's Freddy Ovett.