Richie re-energised for TDU
RICHIE Porte’s proudest moment in his stunning cycling career was not standing atop podiums, it was paying back the $30,000 his parents invested in him when the system rejected him.
The 33-year-old Tasmanian says his first appearance at the Santos Tour Down Under in 2008 forced him to shape his own destiny.
Porte was a UniSA wildcard rider 11 years ago, earning a start in SA by finishing fifth in the individual time trial at the national road cycling championships just before the event.
Claiming ninth in the general classification in his first major bike race tour was the turning point.
“I never came through the Australian Institute of Sport thing, I was forced to go over to Italy and I didn’t have the big support of an institute behind me,’’ Porte said ahead of mak- ing his official debut with the US registered Trek-Segafredo in the Down Under Classic today.
“I think that was for me the best. I think Italy kind of shaped me a little bit, my amateur days were hard.
“It was a culture shock leaving Tassie [Tasmania] for Italy I owed my mum and dad a fortune.
“It’s probably one of the proudest moments of my life paying them back in 2013, they had no problem in doing that for me.
“I owed my parents about $30,000 for everything and to give it back, it was a proud moment. They didn’t expect the money back, but really this race for me was where it all started
“It’s just that this race can start careers. It’s an opportunity for every one of those guys in the UniSA team to get their name over the airwaves.
“And the WorldTour directors their ears prick up they re- member the names. I was lucky enough that my parents were financial enough to be able to do it and, having a little boy now, you’d do anything for your kids.”
The 2017 Tour Down Under winner, who has claimed five consecutive Willunga Hill stages and the only Australian to have won the Paris-Nice (twice) says his new team has re-energised his body and his thoughts.
After a meet-and-greet training camp in the US in November, Porte was allowed a leave pass to Tasmania where he has spent the past two months enjoying what he had missed after all the years of being based in Monaco, Europe.
“Changing teams was the first time since a long time that I was allowed to come back to Australia and just stay in the one place,’’ Porte said.
“I was just in Tassie riding my bike and I got into a good routine as a cyclist.”