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In his 10th Tour de France, Richie Porte is on track to land his first ever Grand Tour podium following a terrific ride in Saturday’s stage 20 time trial.
After seeing his Tour dreams dashed time and time again over the past decade, Porte made it clear after stage 20 that securing third overall means a great deal to a rider who has come up short so many times.
“To finally crack the podium, that’s the picture I want on the wall at home, in Paris on the podium. It means so much to a bike rider,” Porte said. “It’s just so incredible to finally do it, it feels like a victory to be honest.”
Assuming Porte makes it safely through the final stage in Paris, he will secure not only his first ever Tour podium on Sunday, but also just his second ever top 10 in the race. That’s despite starting multiple editions of the Tour as one of the top two or three pre-race favorites following stellar pre-Tour campaigns and impressive results in the one-week races.
In so many of those years earlier in his career, however, Porte found himself out of contention or even out of the Tour altogether by the midpoint of the race, whether it was due to a bad day in the mountains or a bad crash.
The Tours of 2017 and 2018 were particularly heartbreaking for Porte, who crashed out in the ninth stage of both races.
Things may not have gone perfectly for Porte at the 2020 edition of the race – he lost time in the crosswinds on stage 7 – but he put together a consistent performance across all three weeks to come into the time trial sitting fourth overall. With a brilliant ride against the clock, he has finally put himself in position to finish third in Paris behind Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic.
“With three kilometers to go, my DS Kim Andersen told me on the radio I was going to get my dream and it was such a sweet moment,” Porte said.
“It’s been a long journey with the battles I’ve had and the drama along the way, so I’m just so happy to finally be on the podium in the Tour de France.”
What’s more, Porte’s long-awaited first Tour podium is set to come in a year that has seen him miss the birth of his second child. He said after Saturday’s stage that he knew he needed to give it his everything at the race.
“When the whole coronavirus thing kicked off and the season was rescheduled, I knew I was going to miss the birth, but my wife Gemma told me, ‘Go to the Tour, do your thing,'” Porte said.
“The only thing she said to me was that she’d be pissed with me if she turned on the television and saw me at the back of the peloton. The team actually gave me the option to leave the race and that’s incredible of them to do that.”
After two seasons with Trek-Segafredo, Porte is set to leave the team at the end of this season, but he made a point of thanking the squad at the end of a hectic race.
“The team has been incredible, it’s been a great three weeks,” he said. “Mads Pedersen has been incredible for me, he’s probably got more belief in me than I have. Every night he’d come to my room and tell me how it’d be and that I’d be fine if I follow his wheel. And it was.”
Wherever Porte ends up next season – rumors point to the Ineos Grenadiers – there will inevitably be questions around the sport of what his role should be as he arrives on the heels of a third-place finish at the Tour de France. Those are questions for another time. After so many years spent battling, that long-awaited result will be all the sweeter as Porte stands on the final podium on Sunday in Paris.