For the second year running, Richie Porte (BMC) didn’t get to enjoy the first rest day of the Tour de France with his BMC teammates. Instead, for the second year running, he spent the day coming to terms with a frustrating, painful and premature end to his Tour campaign.
“Obviously disappointed,” said Porte in a video interview produced by the BMC Racing Team (see above). “It’s not the way we wanted it to end, the same as last year. It’s obviously painful physically and mentally but I guess it is what it is.”
Stage 9 had been one of the most anticipated of this year’s Tour, the cobblestoned route to Roubaix promising a significant hurdle for Porte and the other lightweight GC contenders. But Porte didn’t even make it to the pavé — he crashed in the peloton after only 7km in what he describes as “just a racing incident.”
“To be honest I don’t remember anything other than just being on the ground,” Porte said. “A cyclist knows the feeling of breaking your collarbone — you know what that’s like. It was confirmed by the first race doctor that came and saw me — he said to me ‘Yeah, you’ve done your collarbone. You need to get in the ambulance.’
“It was a bit of a shock. Then you realise all the hard work and stuff you’ve done to get to that point and it’s pretty overwhelming.”
Instead of joining the rest of the peloton for stage 10 in the Alps on Tuesday, Porte is headed back to his European base in Monaco where he’ll rejoin his wife Gemma and newborn son Luca. BMC team doctor Max Testa said after Porte’s crash that it would likely be three to four weeks before the 33-year-old can train again, and six to eight weeks before he’d be back racing. But Porte has a more optimistic outlook.
“The good thing is I haven’t done anything to my legs so I’ll be able to get on the bike within the next week and at least turn the legs over on a home trainer,” he said. “But it’s going to be pretty disappointing to not be still in the Tour fighting in the mountains.”
Unlike last year, where a fractured pelvis and collarbone sidelined Porte for three months, the Tasmanian appears set to fight in the mountains again in 2018.
“I think the Vuelta’s probably a realistic goal, and also the world championships,” Porte said, referring to the hilly Worlds courses in Innsbruck, Austria that should suit him perfectly. “I mean, it’s nice to be motivated to still race,” Porte continued. “It’s obviously so disappointing to be sat here with my arm in a purple sling [but] there are some nice races to finish up this season.”
When Porte’s season ends, so too will his time with BMC. He’s been linked with Trek-Segafredo for the 2019 season and while that signing hasn’t been confirmed publicly — as per UCI rules — Porte has confirmed his departure from BMC.
“I think obviously to ride into Paris is something special and not to do that the last two years … [my] final year with BMC as well — it would have been nice to be able to do that.”
The Tour de France continues in Annecy today with a tough stage 10 that features five climbs and a largely downhill run to the finish at Le Grand-Bornand.