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Giro d'Italia

Richie Porte’s Giro d’Italia blog: Not everyone on Blockhaus had the same finish line

Australian takes VeloNews readers into the action, and his strategy, on the summit finish.

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It’s rest-day number two at the Giro d’Italia and as ever these days seem to get shorter and shorter the deeper we get into the race. We had a short, 35km ride this morning, just to keep the legs spinning, but I’ve been taking it easy most of the day.

Now that I’m not on GC anymore I can take the next three or four days as easily as possible, and try and recover because I know that the final week of the race is going to be brutal.


Overall though, I’m really happy with my race so far. I came into the Giro willing to ride for Richard Carapaz in the mountains and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I did a turn on the front on Etna, and then on Blockhaus, I put in a longer stint that helped set up Richard for the final. It was a really tough stage but we took it on and set the pace for as long as possible. We took over from Trek-Segafredo and everyone put in a super effort.

Castro did a few really long pulls before we got to the final climb, and then Ben Swift and Salvatore Puccio chipped in before Jhonatan [Narváez] and then Ben Tulett took over. I know I’ve said it before but I’ve been so impressed with Ben so far in his first grand tour. When he went to the front I was on the radio and encouraging him, and I think we’ve still got a great vibe in the team. I hope you could see that from the TV, when we’re at the front working for Richard. We’re all in a good spot and staying positive.

There was a bit of a debacle with the time bonuses, and I have to admit that might have been my fault. Rui Costa had come to the front and started to pull, and I thought UAE Team Emirates were going to try and set up a sprint for the three seconds for Almeida. My thinking was that it would have been a huge effort for just three seconds and that they’d pay for it later. I thought we should just chill but when we got to the sprint we looked a bit silly just rolling through. In the end, I pulled my brakes and let Richard pass, so he got a second but our focus was really on Blockhaus and nothing else. It’s just such a brutal climb. It’s not the sort of ascent that you want to start already on the rivet, and I know Richard has lost the Vuelta due to time bonuses, but I think we made the right call when it came to saving energy for when it mattered most.

I had to probably start my turn on the front a little bit earlier than we would have liked, with just under 9km to go. My plan was to go long rather than go hard, because after Pavel pulled over, it was just me and Richard left and I wanted to stay with him for as long as possible.

There was a strong headwind when I took over, which wasn’t ideal, but I just rode by feel. I know that everyone likes to talk about watts and power meters but that’s really not my style when it comes to racing. I was there to do a job, and my finish line wasn’t going to be at the summit, so I just rode my tempo. I’ve just never been able to ride to watts in a race, and it’s not like training, so I just tried to measure my effort for as long as possible.

If you saw me on the radio with about 5km to go that was me telling the team car and Richard that I was in a bad place. I’ve not been to that place for a long time, and I was absolutely destroyed by that point.

Richard [with the yellow on his helmet] was encouraging me with ‘keep pedaling, keep pedaling,’ on the climb to Blockhaus. (Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

We’d dropped Yates by that point and I take no pleasure from the time we put into him. He’s a great guy on and off the bike, and I’m big enough to admit that going into the stage he was the one guy that we most feared. He was flying at the start and I’m sure that he’ll animate the stages later in the race.

When I got on the radio though, I was on the limit. I wanted to give the car and Richard a sign rather than just pulling over. Richard was encouraging me with ‘keep pedaling, keep pedaling’ and I drove it for as long as I could but once I swung off I just had to survive the last few kilometers on my own.

If there’s one thing that really grinds my gears it’s riders getting tows from cars and really long “sticky bottles” on the climbs. We’re here pedaling our bikes, so why aren’t you? I don’t like that side of it, it’s cheating. I won’t call out the rider I’m talking about, but one guy was holding onto the car for 30 seconds. I told him to pedal his bike and shouted at him, and I really hate it.

Back to the positive side: it’s just great to be racing for a guy like Richard, who wants to take it on and really race for the win. It reminds me of Team Sky back in 2013. It means we all have defined roles and I’m all in to give him 100 percent. I actually really enjoyed it, and it was — despite the pain — one of my favorite days on the bike in a number of years.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.