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Richie Porte is interviewed exclusively in Procycling magazine’s new Tour de France review issue, which is out in shops to buy now. It can also be purchased online here, by selecting the November 2020 issue.
Richie Porte has described his return to Ineos Grenadiers next season to finish his career as a “dream”, as the Australian returns to the squad where he spent four years, after finishing third at the Tour de France this September.
Porte rode for Team Sky from 2012 to 2015, and was part of three Tour de France winning teams before he left to pursue his own ambitions as a general classification leader. Having raced for BMC for three years and now Trek-Segafredo the last two seasons, Porte confirmed after this year's Tour that he’s rejoining Ineos Grenadiers for 2021 on a two-year contract, returning predominantly to a support role before he retires.
Speaking to Procycling magazine, Porte said: “I’d say it was home, no disrespect to Trek because when my wife was pregnant and also when the baby was born [Porte’s daughter was born midway through this year’s Tour] I had the option to leave and things like that. But for me, Sky was the team that we had so much success and fun at the same time.
“When I left I remember Dave [Brailsford, team principal] making a speech, ‘Richie remember if you want to come back, the door’s always open’, so I think that when I left I kind of left with their blessing, that I did need to get out and experience other teams and ride for myself a little bit. I just think it was always my dream to go back there and finish my career. It was always in the back of my mind that’s what it would be.”
The Ineos team Porte will rejoin isn’t quite the same as the one he left behind, though. While team principal Brailsford remains along with coach Tim Kerrison and long-standing riders such as Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe, Chris Froome, who Porte was frequently chief lieutenant for in the mountains is leaving for Israel Start-Up Nation, and a new generation of Egan Bernal and Richard Carapaz now star.
“Nico Portal as well… he was such a good friend, even when I left the team and for sure it’s going to be weird without him. It’s going to be weird without Froomey who’s still a good mate,” Porte said. “It’s also where I met my wife, [and] now we have two kids. It’s a hard one. People say Sky or Ineos isn’t very human, but for me, it’s a human set up. I really look back at the four years I had there and I really enjoyed it. The success that we had there is another thing as well, but it was just a happy place.”
Porte, 35, confirms he did receive interest from Israel-Start Up Nation, where he would have reunited with Froome, but said that racing in an environment that he already knew worked better for him as he looks to the final years of his career.
“I just wanted to go to a team where I knew the dynamics, then I can really hit the ground running. If the Tour Down Under happens next year we can go there and look to try and win the race, and that’s what I really want for my last two years,” he said.
While Porte insisted he's still going to be given his own opportunities in races from next season, he said he felt "content" after his third place at the Tour this year, on what was his 10th start in the race and after a string of misfortune in years gone by in France.
“I’m also very content now I’ve been podium on the Tour. I’ve really done what is set out to do, that was always a huge goal of mine so to achieve that I feel much more calm and relaxed and I’m really ready to transition into a role like that.”
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