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.”

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