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Richie Porte ready for lottery of Olympics road race

LE SAPPEYENCHARTREUSE FRANCE JUNE 04 Richie Porte of Australia and Team INEOS Grenadiers at arrival during the 73rd Critrium du Dauphin 2021 Stage 6 a 1672km stage from LoriolsurDrome to Le SappeyenChartreuse 1003m UCIworldtour Dauphin dauphine on June 04 2021 in Le SappeyenChartreuse France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images
Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) at the Criterium du Dauphine (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Richie Porte will spearhead a strong Australian men's team in the Olympic Games road race on Sunday with the Ineos Grenadiers rider hoping for far better luck than he had five years ago.

In Rio in 2016 Porte was one of the leading riders in the grueling road race but a devastating crash on the final descent took him out of the event and saw him leave in ambulance. He was later diagnosed with a fractured right scapula and didn't race again that calendar year.

Five years on and the 36-year-old is racing alongside Rohan Dennis, Luke Durbridge and Lucas Hamilton in a four-man team looking for a medal on the arduous road course.

"The road race is a lottery with such small teams and for us having Jack Haig and Lucas Hamilton injured as well. I think that it's a lottery if a break goes up the road because there aren't big teams to control things," Porte recently told Cyclingnews.

"I like the look of the course in Tokyo, and in 2016 I didn't have the best Olympic experience. So it will be nice to be in Tokyo and just enjoy. It won't be a normal Olympics but I'm looking forward to representing my country

The climb-heavy parcours in Tokyo certainly suits a rider like Porte, with a route that favours the climbers but given the multitude of paths taken by riders heading into Tokyo there are certainly no guarantees, and after Rio's results, picking favourites can be a dangerous game.

"In Rio the climb was good for me, but you didn't expect someone like Greg van Avermaet to win on that course. I guess I didn't want to end up on a hospital bed, that wasn't the outcome that I was after," Porte said.

"With the heat we had in the Tour that will help for Tokyo and the role at the Tour will help for going into Tokyo."

Porte's own path to Tokyo could also determine how he shapes up in the road race. He went into the Tour de France at the end of June with his best form in years with an overall win in the Critérium du Dauphiné, and while his trade team helped Richard Carapaz finish third overall in Paris the race was somewhat of a disappointment for the British team.

Porte admitted that his workload was slightly less in the Tour given how the race panned out but that he could also be a lot fresher as a result.

"You can never say that a bike race doesn't have pressure or stress," he said.

"Even the stages where you're given the green light to put the brakes on with 10km to go, they're still stressful but it's not the same as when you've got a guy in the jersey. It's an easier role than fighting for GC for yourself. Hopefully that means that going into Tokyo I'll be better there."

Daniel Benson

Editor in Chief - Cyclingnews.