Richie Porte (racing for Team Garmin Australia) enjoys his last climb up Willunga Hill on stage 3 of the 2022 Santos Festival of Cycling.

Richie Porte: ‘I want to go out with a bang, not a whimper’

With the breakaway fighting over the stage 3 win, Porte was able to enjoy his last ascent of Willunga Hill as a professional rider.

by Kit Nicholson

photography by Getty Images

Richie Porte completed the first stage of his farewell tour without an eighth win atop Willunga, but the Tasmanian veteran had nothing but good things to say about his last assault on his favourite hill on the final stage of the Santos Festival of Cycling.

“It was quite emotional for me,” Porte said after the stage, likely his last race on home soil. “This has been my race, this is where it all started for me, all those memories came flooding back from when I started here 14 years ago. I just enjoyed it.”

After two sizzling days of racing, stage 3 of the Festival of Cycling – a domestic-level event that has replaced the COVID-affected WorldTour year-opener, the Tour Down Under – could have played host to a GC showdown, especially after officials slashed James Whelan’s (BridgeLane) lead to within 30 seconds, but in the end it went to the breakaway.

“It was sort of a blessing in disguise that the race was up the road and I could sit back and just enjoy myself more,” said the fondly nicknamed ‘King of Willunga’ after climbing to 10th on the stage. “It was fantastic coming up the climb for the last time as a racer.”

Porte now looks forward to closing out his career with the Ineos Grenadiers. His program lays a clear path to what will be his fourth Giro d’Italia (alongside former winner Richard Carapaz), via Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie, a race he won in 2017. He’s already confirmed that he’s raced his last Tour de France, but he is expected to return to the Critérium du Dauphiné as defending champion in June.

“The big goal for me is the Giro d’Italia,” Porte said. “I’ll be 37 tomorrow but I still feel there’s a bit of fuel in the tank to have another good year. I want to go out with a bang, not a whimper.”

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