Interview: Richie Porte - Tasmanian Wheelman on the Move
A Tasmanian Young Gun 'living the dream' in Italy making a name for himself as one of the most promising talents coming from Down Under.
You may be asking yourself. Who is Richie Porte? Heís an amateur cyclist with excellent results with one of his biggest wins coming in the Baby Giro.
Born in Tasmania, Australia on January 30, 1985, Richie Porte was born to be a cyclist. A solid time trialist and climber, Richie is 172cm tall and weighs 63kg. He is a phenomenal climber and a powerful rider. Richie Porte is determined to train hard and above all, he loves riding his bike.
When you think of young up and coming Australian cyclists you may think of riders like Leigh Howard, Jack Bobridge, Cameron Meyer, Matt Goss & Matthew Lloyd, just to name a few. They are solid riders with excellent results to their name.
Better known in Italy where he has been racing for the last two years, he might make a good addition to that list of promising young talents even though he hasn't signed for a pro team yet. And considering that, it makes his results all the more impressive.
Looking at his palmares, as set out below, I was surprised to see that he hasnít secured a team yet for 2010; but then the transfer season has only just started this month so who knows where he will be on January 1.
3rd Stage 11 Tour of the Murray River, Mildura (AUS)
1st Stage 1 Tour of Bright, Gaps Loop (AUS)
1st Stage 2 Tour of Bright (AUS)
1st General Classification Tour of Bright (AUS)
1st 19 Trofeo Sportivi San Donato in Fronzano (ITA)
5th National Championship, Road, ITT, Elite, Australia, Ballarat (AUS)
4th National Championship, Road, Elite, Australia, Ballarat (AUS)
1st Stage 2 Tour of Wellington, Masterton (NZL)
1st Stage 2 Tour de Perth, Roleystone (AUS)
1st Stage 3 Tour de Perth, Kalamunda (AUS)
1st General Classification Tour de Perth (AUS)
1st Stage 7 Tour of Tasmania, Penguin (AUS)
1st Stage 9 Tour of Tasmania, Poatina (AUS)
1st General Classification Tour of Tasmania (AUS)
7th Stage 4 Herald Sun Tour, Mt. Buller (AUS)
5th General Classification Herald Sun Tour (AUS)
1st 63 G.P. Comune di Cerreto Guidi Cerreto Guidi
3rd National Championship, Road, ITT, Elite, Australia, Buninyong (AUS)
3rd Trofeo Alta Valle Del Tevere (ITA)
1st Stage 2 Giro del Friuli Venezia Giulia, Piano D'Arta (ITA)
2nd Trofeo Matteotti, U23 (ITA)
3rd Coppa della Pace (ITA)
1st Stage 4 Baby Giro, Pozzoleone (ITA)
4th Stage 5 Baby Giro, Feltre (ITA)
5th Stage 7 Baby Giro, Carpegna (ITA)
4th Giro della Valli Aretine (ITA)
1st Stage 1 Giro delle Valli Cuneesi nelle Alpi del Mare, Lequio Berria (ITA)
4th General Classification Giro delle Valli Cuneesi nelle Alpi del Mare (ITA)
1st GP Cittŗ di Felino (ITA)
1st Gp Citta di Saltino-Vallombrosa 2009
Podium Baby Giro, Stage 4: Richie Porte, Andrea Tafi and Adriano Amici.
Photo courtesy Richie Porte
Richie Porte started cycling in 2006 when he was 21 years of age. He is a late comer to the sport but that hasnít phased him as he has gone about his cycling in emphatic style. He comes from a triathlon background having competed in the sport since 2003. Cycling was always Porteís favoured leg in triathlons and when he was offered a spot for Praties, a Tasmanian cycling team, he took the opportunity to pursue cycling with both hands and from there, he hasnít looked back.
I caught up with Richie Porte earlier this week for an interview; so letís get to know the Tasmanian.
Chris Graetz: What other sports, hobbies or other interests do you pursue or do in the off season, when you are not racing or training?
Richie Porte: Mountain Bike, going out fishing with my Dad and brothers, spending time on Tasmaniaís beautiful east coast!
CG: What were your results in your junior years?
RP: I came to cycling relatively late. My first result was a third in a Tattersallís cup stage. At the time it was unbelievable!
CG: Who were your heroes as a young man?
RP: My hero was triathlete, Craig Walton. At the time he was the best swim/biker in the business but they changed the bike leg to draft legal format. He made triathlon exciting!
CG: Who have you ridden for and who do you ride for now?
RP: I have ridden with three different Italian amateur teams and this year I have joined Monsummanese Bedogni Grassi with DS Andrea Tafi.
CG: What was/is your favourite domestic race in Australia?
RP: I would say the Herald Sun Tour. Itís the race in Australia which I would one day like to win! I feel it has the most prestige and history!
CG: How did it feel to win your first race? Tell me about the race.
RP: The first race I won was a local race in Tasmania. I won solo after attacking on the last climb. At the time it justified changing from triathlon to Cycling.
CG: You went to Italy, and your first race there was a win in the Trofeo Sportivi San Donato. What drew you to racing in Italy? Who did you ride for?
RP: It was an amazing day! I am not really built like the stereotypical Italian climber (ok I was fat). The race finished with a solid climb and I attacked and won solo! That one race opened so many opportunities for me. I rode for a team called Gruppo Lupi. My friend Josh Wilson was there and got me the start. His father is Michael Wilson. Heís very famous here in Italy having won stages in the Giro and Vuelta.
CG: How did it feel to win in Italy for the first time?
RP: It was incredible! I went into the race very psyched out thinking I was way out of my depth. I was lucky in the fact that they thought being a little more solidly built I would come back easily but I rode 40 seconds into the next guy. In the post race podium photo the guys look a little annoyed!
CG: What was it like to adapt your racing style in another country?
RP: It was a big change. More the terrain. It seems in Italy they pick either the hardest climbs or skinniest roads and send 160 guys up them plus they crash more often! That said I had spent a year doing domestic racing in Australia which is a very good standard. I believe if you can do well in Australia you will be competitive anywhere.
CG: This year, youíve had major success in Italy. What changed from other years to this year?
RP: I think itís my new team. Last year I had a good early start to the season with The Nationals and Tour Down Under; but had a very bad crash which wasted my season. This year my team is one of the stronger teams in Italy. It is a very professional set up allowing me to totally focus on racing. Plus with a guy like Andrea Tafi in the team car itís certainly inspiring. Another guy who has helped enormously is an Australian Pro Brett Lancaster. He has helped me with so much on and off the bike. Itís hard to be so far from home but Brett and his family have been so generous to me.
CG: What was your favourite race you have done in Italy?
RP: Baby Giro without doubt.
CG: How did it feel to win in the baby Giro? Tell me about the stage you had success in.
RP: I won the Time trial. I was confident, but there were some really strong guys such as U23 world Time Trial champion Adriano Malori. I had done a lot of time trial work in training with Brett Lancaster who has won a time trial in the Giro. His advice was crucial. I nailed a near perfect ride to beat Malori by .10 of a second!
Stage 4 Time Trial: Richie in the office... on the way to win in the time trial
at the Baby Giro this year. Photo courtesy Richie
CG: How hard is the Baby Giro compared to racing in Australia?
RP: It was a very high standard. I went there targeting the general classification but made a mess of it by missing the crucial move on the firstday. It was a very well organized race. I guess itís the benchmark for amateur tours in Italy.
CG: What was your toughest race in Italy?
RP: It would have to be the stage of Valle Cuneesi which finished on an incredibly hard climb. I won the first stage and took the jersey for three days. My team defended brilliantly but I cracked in the last kilometer and lost 37 seconds! Still to lead for three days was a fantastic feeling!
CG: What was your sweetest win?
RP: I would say Tour of Tasmania last year. I got to ride through my home town in the leaderís jersey plus my family don't really see me race much so it was nice for them too. Plus to win in my home state for a Tasmanian based team, Praties who kick started my career was satisfying. Last week I won GP Felino which is also an important race here in Italy. It was a high quality field and to win there was also satisfying.
CG: How are Italian races compared to Australian races?
RP: Italy is more aggressive style of racing. I think I have become a better bike rider for having spent time here. I personally think Australian racing is underrated. The standard is only getting better too. A strong guy in Australian races will do well anywhere, basically here there are more guys at that higher level.
CG: What type of races do you prefer?
RP: I go better in tours. I have raced three tours in Italy this year and won a stage in each.
CG: What do you consider your strengths as a rider?
RP: I can go up hills but ride a flat well enough too. I think itís a good combination to have being strong in time trials and climbs. I think my main strength is I am prepared to train hard and at the end of the day I love riding my bike!
CG: What is your racing schedule for the rest of the year?
RP: In September in Italy we have some more important one day races. It would be nice to get some more wins.
CG: Where would you like to go as a professional next? Would you be happy on a Continental team in Europe or USA or a pro tour team?
RP: Pro tour would be the dream, I really like European style racing.
CG: You donít have a team yet when clearly your results should state otherwise. How is that affecting you?
RP: I do have some good results. I don't really have much of a profile outside of Italy. Fingers crossed I can get a contract next year. I have some really good people helping me such as Andrea Tafi to find a team next year. Fingers crossed.
CG: Have you got any long term plans and goals? What are your goals next year? What races are you targeting?
RP: My goal is to turn pro! I have made sacrifices living so far from home and being the only English speaker on the team, to get a contract and turn professional would really make it all worthwhile! My only goal for next year is to be in a professional team.
Winning mountain stage in Giro del Friuli, 1st of Richie's 5 wins this year.
Photo courtesy Richie Porte
Without putting too much pressure on the young man, Richie Porte already possesses the skills and attributes which could see him thrive in the Grand Tours later in his career. Itís now a matter of getting a start in a professional team. With talent to burn, this kid could be anything. His results certainly state that and his determination and motivation is second-to-none.
I wish Richie Porte all the best. Hopefully the sacrifices he has made and the hard racing he has done will come out trumps for him in the end.
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