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In recognition of the Tour Down Under’s cancelation, we have features, interviews, photo galleries, and other stories to celebrate Australian cycling as part of “Aussie Week.”
Richie Porte will debut his 2021 season this week in Australia. Instead of defending his title at the Santos Tour Down Under, which was canceled in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Tasmanian is racing as part of the Santos Festival of Cycling event.
“We had to do two weeks of quarantine which everybody had to do coming back into Australia which wasn’t the easiest,” Porte said. “But now I’m here in Adelaide it was the best decision I made to come back to Australia and I think we’re going to get a race that’s a four-day head start on everybody in Europe, it really makes sense.”
Australia’s strict quarantine measures have helped limit infections on the continent, allowing Tour Down Under organizers to move ahead with a pro-am event that includes a host of events that coincide with the WorldTour’s dates.
Porte is among a handful of top Australian men’s and women’s racers who are taking part in the week-long event that also includes some road racing. Porte will be donning a national jersey as he races part of a composite team, and will debut his official Ineos Grenadiers colors later this season when he returns to Europe.
“This race has been so special to me and so important that it’s nice to be able to come back,” Porte said. “It’s the best place to be at the moment in Australia. Everybody here has done the right thing and the race organization has done a brilliant job to get this over the line.”
Porte, 36 this month, is coming off one of his best seasons, capped by third overall at the Tour de France. Despite hitting the Tour podium for the first time of his career, his move from Trek-Segafredo to Ineos Grenadiers will see him revert to a helper’s role in the major grand tours. Porte will still see his chances in select races.
“The word everyone kept saying, ‘pivot and to keep it going and keep the heart beating,’ for not only cycling in South Australia but just for cycling globally at the moment,” O’Grady said. “Now that I can say it out aloud there has been so much work that has gone into getting to this point. None of us really knew if it was going to happen or not, we were constantly striving forward and staying positive.”
View the full schedule of events during the Santos Festival of Cycling.