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Richie Porte: ‘Cycling has become a mathematical equation’

'Froome at his best, or Pogačar, these guys are psychological beasts.' Porte looks back on life in high-pressure, data-driven peloton.

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Newly retired Aussie star Richie Porte is glad to be done with certain parts of life in the pro peloton.

“I can’t deny that it’s been a privilege to live abroad in the south of France, to have the job of riding a bike, but there are parts of cycling that I won’t miss,” Porte told l’Equipe this week.

“Cycling is a simple thing, you get on your bike and you press the pedals. But now it’s like everything has become a mathematical equation.”

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Porte put a stop on his illustrious 13-year career this winter.

The 37-year-old spent six of those years – including the last two – at the Team Sky/Ineos franchise.

Porte’s first stay at the British powerhouse from 2012-2015 saw the team ascend to the very top of the Tour de France through its rigorous approach to all-things-racing and data-driven philosophy.

It’s an ethos that trickled through to the modern-day incarnation of Ineos Grenadiers and its crop of Gen-Z talents.

“In the end, I got tired of being on the bus and hearing young riders talking about the carb and protein levels on their menus. I’ve always been better when I was a kilo over my supposed ideal weight, because I felt better,” Porte told l’Equipe.

“You can’t deny the human element, the guy who’s ready to fight. Take [Chris] Froome at his best, or [Tadej] Pogačar, these guys are psychological beasts.”

Porte became the top domestique for Froome during his time at Team Sky and returned to Ineos six years later in what he called a “dream finish” to his career.

Yet some of the things that delivered his favored team seven yellow jerseys in eight years grated with Porte and his stripped-back approach to the sport.

“I’ve never been one of those people who stares at their power meter too much. I disagree with all of that. I admire someone like Thibaut Pinot, because he’s probably like me. Both of us don’t like criticism too much, it gets on our nerves, but I never rode my bike to make people like me, I never liked social networks, the obligations of sponsorship is shit to me,” Porte said.

“I remained friends with everyone at Sky/Ineos, there was still a human side to the team, but I was never a guy who weighed his food.”

Porte told l’Equipe he’s uncertain if he’ll keep a toe in pro cycling now he’s hung up his wheels.

He now leaves behind a career that saw victory in almost all the major week-long races and a palmarès-capping third overall at the 2020 Tour de France. Porte said he has little to regret, even if he did acknowledge his “human approach” might have cost him some success.

“Probably,” he said when asked if his laid-back outlook left him limited in the ruthless pro peloton.

“I didn’t win a grand tour for some reason. Maybe I let things get to me too much, maybe I paid too much attention to what the people thought of me,” he continued. “I’ve never had a ‘win or die’ approach, I like when people have respect for you. In the end, I’m pretty happy with my record. I have won fantastic races.”