Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.
The move was predicted by some after his Giro d’Italia plans unravelled due to a puncture, a time penalty and a crash. Sure enough, Richie Porte confirmed Monday that he would not continue in the race, preferring to focus instead on the rest of the season and particularly on the Tour de France.
“The Giro has been my main goal this year and I’ve worked incredibly hard all season with this race in mind,” he said on Monday.
“I’ve had a lot of back luck this week with the puncture and the time penalty, but it was the crash on Friday that has taken its toll.
“I fell heavily on my knee and hip which caused me a lot of pain on Saturday’s time trial and yesterday’s stage. I just wanted to keep trying and give it everything but now the medical team have advised me not to continue.”
Porte went into the Italian Grand Tour as one of the top favourites, both due to his targeting of the race as one of his main goals for the year and also due to the stream of good results he has landed since the start of the season.
Those included the Australian national time trial title, a stage win and second overall in the Tour Down Under, a stage plus fourth in the Volta ao Algarve and overall wins in Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro del Trentino.
Despite those results and the weight loss he had achieved this season, things didn’t go to plan at the Giro. He was sitting third overall heading into stage ten to Forli but was delayed due to a puncture. He crossed the line 43 seconds back, but had taken a wheel from Orica GreenEdge rider and friend Simon Clarke rather than one of his own team-mates.
This was in contravention of UCI rules and the commissaires decided to hand him an additional two minute penalty. The combined time loss dropped him to 12th overall and his slide continued when he crashed 3.3 kilometres from the finish of stage 13 to Jesolo.
He injured his knee and his hip in the fall and went on to suffer in the following day’s time trial, where he was only 55th. Sunday’s race to the top of the Madonna di Campiglio was another exercise in frustration, with Porte finishing 88th and ending the day a distant 27th, over 35 minutes back.
“I’m gutted it’s ended this way and that I can’t stay and support Leo [Konig], Elia [Viviani] and the team in the last week. They’ve been outstanding every step of the way and to not be able to repay that is tough.
“The plan for me now is to take some time off the bike, get the medical treatment that I need and reset my goals for the rest of the season and come back fighting. Hopefully I can get myself ready for the Tour team.”
Porte had been expected to be Chris Froome’s main support in the Tour, and also to start as the protected second rider.
Continuing in the Giro would likely have complicated that, and so he will use the 40 days until the Grand Depart to recover and then rebuild in advance of the Tour.