Giro d'Italia: Porte goes from white to pink in stellar ProTour debut
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Giro d'Italia: Porte goes from white to pink in stellar ProTour debut

by Bjorn Haake at 3:32 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
The second Australian to wear pink this Giro

Richie PorteRichard 'Richie' Porte is racing his first pro season in Europe and the young Australian is having a blast. After already winning the time trial in Moudon during the Tour de Romandie, Porte had a great start to the Giro d'Italia. He wore the white jersey of the best young rider for the first four days and then again starting with stage seven.

Now the Saxo Bank rider stepped it up a notch and is in pink tonight. Unlike the riders previously ahead of him in the general classification - Alexander Vinokourov, Cadel Evans, Vincenzo Nibali, Ivan Basso, Marco Pinotti - he didn't miss out on the crucial 50-plus rider break today in stage 11. Accompanied by teammates Laurent Didier and Chris Anker Sørensen, Porte took full advantage of the opportunity that presented itself.

His directeur sportif, Dan Frost, couldn't quite believe what he saw. "The stage over 262 kilometers in 10 degrees and pouring rain is simply surreal. And I have never seen such a large group leaping away from the favorites like this."

In Frost's opinion, it was not only the hardness of the stage and the weather conditions that created the unreal situation. "Liquigas is ruining its chance by looking at Astana and BMC, who don't have the riders to create the sufficient pace in the chase. However, we have the right guys in the front group and Chris [Anker Sørensen] is really riding like a motor bike in front of Richie and Laurent, who once again knew when to be at the forefront."

Porte is a decent climber, but taking the pink to Verona is out of the question. "We don't want to ruin the whole team to protect the leader's jersey, but we will keep things simple, take it day by day and enjoy the moment," a smiling Frost said after the stage.

Porte is having a stellar first ProTour season. "I can't really believe it," he said according to French paper Le Parisien. "I still can't believe how that could have happened. I am in a good position and I have a good team which was underestimated before the start of the Giro. But when you see Chris Sørensen, who won a stage, sacrifice himself for me like he did today, it is impressive."

Pink dreams

Porte's color preference - pink over white - is clear. "I will try to hang on to this pink jersey. But it is the first time that I am participating in a Grand Tour."

The 25-year-old Porte switched over from triathlon to bike racing and had his full first season at age 21. But he quickly build up a resume in his native Australia. In his first year, in 2006, he won stage 11 of the Tour of the Murray River. In 2007 he won the Tour of Bright, but more importantly he took the Trofeo Sportivi San Donato in Fronzano, Italy. He was picked up the Team Praties for 2008 and thanked them by winning the Tour de Perth and the Tour of Tasmania.

He also started to race in Italy more and was racing with several different teams when he was overseas. In 2009, he started to be very successful in Italy. One of his best wins was the time trial stage in the Baby Giro d'Italia. He beat the then reigning U23 time trial World Champion Adriano Malori by a fraction of a second.

He stood proudly on the podium, next to his coach Andrea Tafi. The former Paris-Roubaix winner was running Monsummanese Bedogni Grassi and took Porte under his wings. The white and now pink is just another step up for the young Tasmanian.

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