Giro d'Italia: Saxo Bank's Richie Porte ready for debut
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Friday, May 07, 2010

Giro d'Italia: Saxo Bank's Richie Porte ready for debut

by Jered Gruber at 3:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 

Saxo Bank's 25-year-old revelation, Richie Porte, pulled off what can only be described as the upset of 2010 so far with his time trial victory at the Tour de Romandie last week. The first year professional has been quiet all season before hitting it big at Romandie with the time trial win and a notable 11th place overall finish.

Porte's Romandie hinged around the time trials, one amazing, one terrible. The opening prologue was a disaster, but he got his due recompense a few stages later: "I knew I was in good shape, but I had a very disappointing prologue, where I crashed. I then came back to win the time trial against such a strong field, it was very emotional," said Porte in an interview with Dutch website, feltet.dk.

Even with a number of wins and top placings in time trials including the win in the Baby Giro time trial in 2009, a 3rd at the Australian National Championships in 2009, and now the Romandie success, Porte still does not consider himself a specialist: "I have some good results in the time trials. I don't think that I am a specialist though."

Bjarne Riis is impressed with his young signee, but won't go so far as to foretell Porte's potential direction either: "He has just become a professional with us this year. It is premature to predict what type of rider he will become. He can certainly do a good time trial, there's no question there."

Porte is humble about his own abilities as well and is in agreement with Riis' assessment: "I totally agree. If I must be honest, these guys know my abilities better than I do. I feel that I have not developed to my full potential yet. I work with some fantastic people on the team, such as Bradley McGee. With these guys around me, I feel that I can take some big steps in the future."

Porte is on the cusp of taking some giant steps forward when he takes to the start in Amsterdam on Saturday. It's not often that a rider gets his first ProTour win in a time trial the week before a Grand Tour, then suddenly finds himself a hot favorite for that Grand Tour's prologue. After being asked about the possibilities of a win on Saturday, Porte replied:

"It would be a dream! If you had told me last week that I would win the time trial in Romandie, I would never have believed you. I will put up a good fight."

The media aren't the only ones touting Porte as a possibility on Saturday. His teammates Nicki Sorensen and Anders Lund have both put forth the idea that they'll be riding at the head of the race through Holland after a Porte victory in Amsterdam. Anders Lund commented: "We have Richie Porte for the prologue on Saturday, and he certainly has a good possibility. So if he takes the jersey, we are all ready to help him to defend it."

Porte will certainly be taking aim at the opening day in Amsterdam, but after that, his goals are a bit more hazy.

"My form is pretty good. I will always try to do the best for myself, but also for the team. It was a shame to have to see Chris Anker rush in his run-up (following a late broken collarbone). I think he could contend otherwise. I want to get through the Giro d'Italia, but I would really like to do something along the way. I will try to do a solid ride on general classification, but I will not be disappointed if I fall back. I will do my best."

Even with a relatively young and inexperienced Saxo Bank team at this year's Giro, Porte feels like they have an intangible power going for them: the infamous Saxo Bank team building camps during the off-season.

"I'm going in with the intention of doing well in this year's Giro d'Italia. Even though we are not the strongest team, I must say that we have the strongest friendship, which is more important. You cannot go through the hell of our training camps and not come out as a much stronger entity."

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