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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Richie Porte is back home thawing his bones after a cold and challenging week in Italy where he rode to fourth overall at Tirreno-Adriatico.
After a slow start that he said was hampered by a “bit of a cold,” the Ineos Grenadiers star found his rhythm once the heavier climbs stacked up in the back half of the race and was at the front on all the key moments.
On Saturday, Porte powered to the front line with Tadej Pogačar for the elite GC battle up Monte Carpegna. A dangerous descent pocked with poor road surfaces and loose stones for traction saw Porte ride on the side of assuring he stayed rubber side down. Porte finished Sunday at a satisfying fourth at just 11 seconds off the final podium.
Despite early season problems plaguing some of the team’s GC captains coupled with his impressive early season legs, Porte said there is no change of plans yet in his calendar. He’s still on track to race the Giro d’Italia in May.
VeloNews caught up with Porte ahead of Sunday’s final stage in Italy to reflect on the intense week:
VeloNews: Fourth overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, that’s a nice confirmation going into your final season?
Richie Porte: To be honest, I wasn’t so great at the start of the week, a little bit ill. I was really happy with the stage [Saturday at Carpegna], to be up there with the top climbers at the top of the climb. On the descent, I didn’t see any reason to take any risks. Even doing it at a safe pace, it was pretty sketchy. Enough’s been said whether it should be in the race or not. I was happy to get through with fourth on GC, I’m quite satisfied with that.
VN: Riders were commenting that there was gravel and stones on the descent, how sketchy was it?
RP: Even on some of the less technical corners, you were losing the front or the back. I sort of decided after three pretty sketchy moments that it’s my last season and I’d rather get to the next races in one piece. Tao Geoghegan Hart crashed pretty badly there Saturday as well. It’s such a mythical climb. It would have been nice to have just finished at the top, to be honest.
VN: It’s been a big week for the team at Tirreno-Adriatico as well as Paris-Nice, how do you see the team’s performances?
RP: I still think we’re the best team in the peloton. At this point, with the big guys missing — ‘G’ is sick, Carapaz is sick, and obviously what happened to Egan. The good news there is that he’s back on the bike. It’s hard not to have the luxury of having a Bradley Wiggins or a Chris Froome, who 99 percent of the time would finish it off. You look at UAE and Jumbo-Visma, you hope those guys enjoy what they’re on at the moment. Because those times don’t last forever. I think this team in the future will be the top team again.
VN: Some say other teams have caught up to Ineos Grenadiers, have you seen that?
RP: Right now, Pogačar is a level above, Roglič also I suppose. The sad thing is with Tadej is now that he has to answer questions and insinuations. I just think he is absolute class. He is a great kid and it’s exciting for the future of the sport. I think he’s going to be the best of the best.
VN: On Saturday when Pogačar jumped on the Carpegna climb, what was that like?
RP: When he jumped, it wasn’t like we were doing ridiculous power. He is a level above, he just rode off. No one was even able to react. It was just ridiculously hard and he just clipped off, and that was the last we saw of him.
VN: You’ve been around some big names in your career, how does Pogačar compare?
RP: Time will tell. For me, I think the next five years, there’s not going to be many races won by anyone but him. It’s what cycling needs, he’s fantastic, he’s a down-to-earth, normal kid.