It wasn’t the Olympic farewell Richie Porte was looking for in Tokyo, with a ‘stinker’ in the time trial and disappointment in the road race too but now the Australian rider is looking ahead to some of those one week stage races he’d like to win before retiring at the end of 2022.
In his Olympics swansong, Porte was the rider meant to lead the charge for Australia in Saturday’s road race but the climber ,who has stood on the overall podium of the Tour de France, ended up in 48th position. He was hoping to recover before the time trial on Wednesday so he could deliver on a course that suited and in a discipline where he had only finished out of the top ten once this year. On Wednesday, however, it became twice.
“I picked a day to have a stinker,” Porte said. “It’s probably the worst ride I’ve had in a time trial for, I can’t remember how long."
Porte came 27th, with a time of 1:00:53, in the 44.1 kilometre time trial that included 846 metres of elevation gain. He was 5:49 slower than winner Primož Roglič (Slovenia) and was caught out on the course by the rider who started 90 seconds behind, Belgian Remco Evenepoel..
“Once Remco came past me at the end of that first lap – I know he’s probably going to be one of the fastest – but it’s been a while since I’ve been caught like that in a time trial. That kind of hurt.”
Teammate Rohan Dennis, however, stepped onto the podium taking bronze for Australia behind Slovenia’s Roglic and Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin. It was somewhat of a surprise podium as Porte wasn’t the only rider who failed to deliver on expectations, with favourites Filippo Ganna (Italy) and Wout van Aert (Belgium) finishing fifth and sixth.
Both had raced the Tour de France, just like Porte, while the only rider on the podium who had been at the Tour was Roglič and the gold medal winner left the race after little more than a week, having fallen heavily twice early in the race.
“I’m in the same boat as everybody else,” said Porte when asked about the impact of having come straight from the three-week race. “It’s been a long season up until now. But today the legs just let me down. I was motivated for the ride, but I just did not have it.”
For now, the 36 year old said he’d take a break before working back toward the eight-stage Tour of Britain in early September. Beyond that, now that his final Olympics is behind him, the Ineos Grenadiers rider is looking to what he would like to do in with his remaining time as a professional cyclist, given he plans to retire at the end of the 2022 season.
“At this point in my career, whether or not I do another Grand Tour… I’m motivated for next year to go and clean up maybe a few more one week stage races before calling it a career,” said Porte.
“I had a talk to my coach Tim Kerrison, and there’s obviously races like Tirreno [Adriatico] and the Pais Basque [Itzulia Basque Country] that I’ve not won. That’s motivating as well. But at the end of the day, I need a little bit of a rest after this. “
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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.