ADELAIDE, Australia (AFP) — Saxo Bank team manager Brad McGee called for patience from Richie Porte Thursday after a failed attack late on the Tour Down Under’s third stage scuppered his protege’s chances.
Tasmanian sensation Porte is making his debut in Australia’s premier cycling event in the wake of a storming first season among the European elite.
Saxo Bank gave the 25-year-old former triathlete, who turned exclusively to cycling only in 2006, a chance to showcase his skills early in 2010, when he promptly raced into the leader’s pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia.
Although considered a big hope for the Tour de France, the Tasmanian had to be brought back down to Earth Thursday when an attack 4km from the finish on the hilly third stage resulted in a loss of 40 seconds.
“In hindsight it probably wasn’t the smartest move,” said Porte, who finished as the best placed rider aged under the age of 25 and seventh overall at the Giro d’Italia.
But McGee, a former Olympic champion with Australia’s track team who enjoyed a successful road career, had harsh words for Porte.
“We had some more specific stuff to do today and I think Richie just forgot the original, overall view,” McGee said. “There was absolutely no reason for him to lose any time today.”
Porte was countered easily as several teams worked hard to get their sprinters to the front for the dash to the finish line, where Australian Michael Matthews of Rabobank prevailed.
Porte admitted he had misjudged his effort after finishing 46 seconds adrift, to drop to one minute behind compatriot Matthew Goss of HTC-HighRoad.
“I felt good in the climb, so I attacked and it didn’t quite work out. I thought I’d have a little more in the tank than I did, but I (blew up). I went from too far,” said Porte.
“The GC is gone, but you learn from your mistakes.”
Despite Porte’s stunning 2010 season, McGee believes Porte and the team staff cannot forget that the youngster still has plenty to learn.
“We just have to work with that now and use it as a good lesson because these are the kinds of mistakes we can’t make when it comes to the big races in Europe,” said McGee.
“It’s up to me and the management, and himself, to remember that he still is a neo-pro and there’s a big learning curve.”