Richie Porte talks Tour de France, Santos Festival of Cycling and being in quarantine
Tasmania’s Richie Porte says there is no place he’d rather be after the reigning Santos Tour Down Under champion was named as a marquee starter at the Santos Festival of Cycling.
Fresh from a COVID-19 interrupted best ever UCI WorldTour season the 35-year-old looked back on the year as being one where family time became vitally important to his well being after the pandemic shut down the planet’s most iconic bike races from March until August.
Porte stunned the WorldTour peloton when he claimed a podium - third place at the Tour De France with team Trek-Segafredo where he recently ended his contract before rejoining Ineos Grenadiers on a two-year deal from the start of the 2021 season.
The rescheduled Tour de France August start meant he also missed the birth of his daughter Eloise.
“The only problem with racing and being in good form at the Santos Down Under (in 2020) was it was hard to keep that going until the scheduled Tour de France (in June),’’ Porte said from Perth where he is in quarantine for 14 days in a hotel room with his wife Gemma and two young children.
“In hindsight the lockdown in Europe worked well for me.
"It was nice to spend some time with the family, Gemma, my wife, was pregnant at the time and with my son (Luca), we had some good family time together and once the racing started I didn’t expect that much from myself.
“I went to the Tour (de France) and had my most successful one and it all kind of worked out really well.
“I spent the entire lockdown in Monaco.
“I was talking to my parents during that time, my dad is retired and they have a holiday home on the east coast of Tassie.
“My mum was not happy because they weren’t allowed on the beach and I was like “mum come on we’re locked up we can’t do anything we can’t go outside” and as matter of fact one good thing was we were allowed to go for a walk around Monaco.
“But (Australian WorldTour cyclist) Michael Mathews and I got fined for walking together in Monaco… it wasn’t our finest moment.
“So now we’re back here in Australia doing the quarantine and the country has done a super good job getting on top of it and compared to the rest of the world Australia is pretty free.
“You see that with the AFL season it was less than ideal and you see the English premier league and French football league are all fan free.
“It has been a topsy turvy year for everyone.
After a great start to 2020 where he claimed his second Santos Tour Down Under title after the general classification win in 2017, Porte says the 2021 Santos Festival of Cycling will showcase the nation’s budding national road series riders against some of the finest WorldTour professionals.
“It will be nice to come back and see some good young Aussie talent,’’ Porte said.
“I’m not looking forward to what they’re going to do to me but I think it’s just good the South Australian government has got behind it too."
The Santos Festival of Cycling men’s and women’s NRS pedals-off from January 21.
The Adelaide Track Event at the Gepps Cross Superdrome will lead into the four stage (NRS) race, showcasing the Barossa, Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu regions.
The program will also feature paracycling, track, cyclo-cross, mountain bike and BMX.
“It’s unfortunate they had to take the WorldTour status away (for the Santos Tour Down Under in 2020),’’ Porte said.
“But at the end of the day, one year off and the world has bigger problems than the WorldTour bicycle race not happening.
“I think it was the right decision, it’s just a shame for Stuey (Santos TDU race director Stuart O’Grady) taking over the race from (former race director) Mike Turtur that this had to happen in his first proper year.”