Richie Porte has expressed his disappointment over his performance during the elite men’s road race at the Tokyo Olympic Games and is now hoping for a better day on Wednesday when he will compete in the time trial.
The Australian finished more than 10 minutes behind solo winner and gold medallist Richard Carapaz (Ecuador) in what he says was one of the most challenging races he’s experienced.
"I'm disappointed it went the way it did," said Porte. "Riding with Luke Durbridge and Lucas Hamilton was brilliant. They did a super job for me and put me in a good position on the final climb but I just didn't have the legs."
"There was no hiding. It was seven kilometres, 10%. That's a climb straight out of the Vuelta or the Giro. With the heat and everything, it was one of the toughest days I think I've had on a bike."
Porte was one of three riders representing Australia on the start line at Musashinonomori Park alongside Durbridge and Hamilton. Rohan Dennis opted to skip the Olympic road race so he could focus on the July 28 time trial, which Porte is also riding.
The men’s 243 kilometre course included 4,865 metres of elevation across five ascents and looked to favour a rider like Porte, who last year stood on the overall podium at the Tour de France. He won the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this year and arrived in Tokyo having recently completed the Tour de France where he rode in support for Carapaz, his trade team teammate at Ineos Grenadiers.
Porte was also looking for some redemption after crashing on the final descent of the event in Rio 2016 where he suffered a fractured right scapula. He said ahead of Saturday’s road race that the Olympics can be somewhat of a lottery should a breakaway go up the road, since there are smaller teams racing with less control over various race scenarios.
The rider from Tasmania remained in contention as the main field reeled in an early eight-rider breakaway ahead of Mikuni Pass. He said that he was initially in a good position as the race started the climb, but he wasn't to be seen near the front when Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia) attacked over the penultimate climb, Mikuni Pass and forced a breakaway with Brandon McNulty (USA) and Michael Woods (Canada). The lead trio increased when Carapaz and Wout van Aert (Belgium), and others, bridged across.
McNulty and Carapaz then attacked and gained a maximum of 40 seconds before Carapaz went on to a solo victory at the Fuji International Speedway, while Van Aert sprinted for silver and Pogačar bronze from a small chase-group sprint.
Having lost contact with the head of the race over the final climb, Porte finished in 48th place at 10:12 behind Carapaz while Lucas Hamilton and Luke Durbridge finished 71st and 72nd, respectively at 16:20 behind the day’s winner.
"It's always nice to represent the country but when you have days like this, it's not ideal," said Porte. "Hopefully I can recover for Wednesday's time trial."
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