At times, Richie Porte's Tour de France has been a frustrating and disappointing affair. On other ocassions, it has given him hope and seen him climbing with the best in the world. It closed with mixed emotions as the BMC rider rolled into Morzine following the Tour's final mountain stage 20 to seal his fifth place in the overall classification.
Less than a minute from the podium, there surely must be a feeling for Porte that it could have been so much more. Nevertheless, he comes away with his best-ever Tour de France performance and first Grand Tour top 10 since the 2010 Giro d'Italia.
"I'm happy but it's a bit bittersweet. It felt like I was throwing time away, even yesterday. I'll move on and now I've got the Olympics to look forward to. Hopefully, I'll take some good form out of this race and I'll have a good go there," Porte said, standing just outside the door to his team bus, his lips tinged with a hint of blue from the cold weather conditions. "It does. A few times I had a little bit of bad luck but you know, it's exciting for next year and hopefully I'll be back to give it another crack and see what I can do."
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The Australian certainly got his fair share of bad luck at this year's Tour de France with a poorly-timed puncture losing him almost two minutes on the second stage and a crash with a motorbike on Mont Ventoux. He fought back and chipped away at the deficit with an aggressive ride in the Pyrenees and Alps but had one last hurdle thrown in his way on the penultimate mountain stage.
A crash on the rain-soaked Alpine roads en-route to Mont Blanc, effectively ended his hopes of stepping onto the podium. There was still a slim chance that he could have moved up the overall classification but the weather conditions, combined with the incessant pace set by Team Sky made it all but impossible to have a go.
"I mean down off those descents before, everyone was frozen solid. The Joux Plane is not an easy climb but with the pace that they set it was quite hard to do anything from it," Porte explained.
Porte's directeur sportif Yvon Ledanois echoed his rider's sentiments, taking confidence from what was achieved despite the misfortune. "Richie was super strong the whole race. He showed what he can do and fifth place is a great result for him in his first attempt as a team leader," said Ledanois.
"This result is a great motivator for next year. We know we have a strong leader with Richie and I'm really proud of him and the way the team worked around him. He had some bad luck with the mechanical problem on stage 2, the disaster on Mont Ventoux and the crash yesterday, so finally fifth place is a really good result."
Tour de France stage 20 highlights video