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CAMAIORE, Italy (VN) — Richie Porte knows every day he clicks into the pedals he is one day closer to retirement.
Speaking to VeloNews at the start of the stage 2, the 37-year-old admits he has mixed feelings as he closes in on his final year in the peloton.
“I can’t lie, it’s a bit of everything. The Tour Down Under this year, obviously it wasn’t a WorldTour race, but it was quite an emotional thing,” Porte told VeloNews. “It is a bit of nostalgia that every time you sign on to a race, it’s one less working day of the thing that’s been your life.”
The tenacious Tasmanian has seen it all in the arc of his 13-year career.
He’s raced on the biggest and best teams in the world, emerged as one of the best stage racers of his generation, and made history when he become only the second Australian to hit the Tour de France GC podium when he was third in 2020.
Despite a horrific crash involving Colombian and 2019 Tour winner Egan Bernal in January, Porte confirmed to VeloNews that there will be no changes to his racing calendar.
The Giro d’Italia — where he made waves in 2010 when he wore the pink jersey, won the white jersey, and finished seventh overall in his grand tour debut — remains the centerpiece of his calendar.
“The plan will stay the same for me,” Porte said. “I am excited that my big goal is in May. It’s different that than we try to eke our more form, starting in Australia in January all the way to July, it’s a long stretch.”
Richie Porte riding a quiet portion of the stage 1 TT at Tirreno Adriatico
— peloton® (@pelotonmagazine) March 7, 2022
He’s also tasted the bitterness of crashes that can wipe a season’s worth of work and sacrifice, and relished in the glory of 33 professional victories. He was part of three Tour de France-winning teams, in 2012, 2013 and 2015, and then became a GC leader himself at BMC Racing and Trek-Segafredo.
A return to Ineos in 2021 sees Porte putting a definitive end to his career this season. There won’t be any Alejandro Valverde-like heroics from him.
“I am looking forward to this year’s Giro. [Richard] Carapaz is going to be up there, and he’s won it before, and Tao [Geoghegan Hart] has won it before. We’re going to have a great team.
“I am really looking forward to going to the Giro. It’s the first time in seven years.”
Richie Porte: ‘I am looking forward to enjoy this final year’
This week, Porte is racing Tirreno-Adriatico for the first time since 2014.
When asked why he chose the Italian one-week stage race over Paris-Nice, the race he twice won, he said it was a choice to race in Italy a few more days.
“I love Paris-Nice, but more when you arrive in Paris,” he said. “The first few days there don’t really suit my characteristics. It’s been very kind to me. It’s the race that really kicked things off for me.
“I love Italy and I love racing here, so it’s nice to come here and do some different racing.”
Porte is savoring every moment this season like a fine cup of cappuccino.
The rituals of cycling are coming to a close. Pinning on the race bib, going to sign-on, and attending the sometimes annoying media, Porte knows it’s all coming to an end very soon.
There are no regrets, no second thoughts. Porte said he’s excited about spending more time with his family and beginning a new chapter in his life.
Yet he’s a racer, and he knows there is nothing in life to replace the thrill of racing a bike.
“It’s my last year as a professional cyclist. It’s all I know, I suppose,” he said. “I am looking forward to enjoy this final year. It’s not an easy game to enjoy.
“I still love riding my bike, but the races are getting faster and faster. And when you have two kids at home, it’s harder to be away from them. I still love it.”