As he prepares for four days of racing at the Santos Festival of Cycling, Richie Porte is convinced that returning to Australia was the best decision to take. Travelling from Europe was not easy, with two-weeks of mandatory quarantine, but it allows him to kick off his 2021 season early after enjoying the Australian summer and to return to racing in Adelaide, where he has so often enjoyed success.
The two-time Tour Down Under winner, who leads Team Garmin Australia at the race, will be up against the domestically based teams in a National Road Series race which was put together after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the WorldTour event.
“This race has been so special to me and so important that it’s nice to be able to come back,’’ Porte said. “It’s the best place to be at the moment in Australia. We had to do two weeks of quarantine, which everybody had to do coming back into Australia, which wasn’t the easiest, but now I’m here in Adelaide. It was the best decision I made to come back to Australia, and I think we’re going to get a race that’s a four-day head start on everybody in Europe. It really makes sense.
The Santos Festival of Cycling will run from Thursday, January 21 to Sunday, January 24. Both the women’s and men's races will travel through the towns and countryside surrounding Adelaide, tackling the popular climb of Willunga Hill on stage 3 and finishing with a criterium on the outskirts of the city.
A number of WorldTour professionals who have returned to Australia for the summer and the Australian-based Team BikeExchange will be competing at the men’s and women’s events. The bulk of the field will be made up of domestic riders.
“All these (other) Aussie guys are training the house down in a consistent Australian environment so it doesn’t matter how talented Riche is, for these guys it’s their world title,” said Santos Tour Down Under race director Stuart O’Grady.
“And for Richie 'it’s welcome home' and get the accolades he deserves and hopefully get a result.”
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