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Giro Talk: The New Man In Pink Richie Porte!

Since we last spoke with SaxoBank’s Richie Porte, he has lost and then regained the white jersey of Best Young Rider, joined the ever increasing membership of the Crash Club at this year’s Giro and successfully ticked off the first real climbs of 2010…and as of a few minutes ago – just taken hold of the MAGLIA ROSA!

Matt did this interview of Richie a day ago now, and just as we were getting ready to post it – Richie assumed ownership of the Maglia Rosa.

If you have been following Richie Porte’s Twitter updates you might have been surprise by just how late at night he has been updating his micro blog. With some of the transfers between finish line and hotel seeing the riders getting to bed around midnight, the idea of them spending a relaxing evening lying on their hotel room beds has not been part of the neo-pro’s reality so far this Giro. With a relatively short transfer on Monday night, we were able to catch up with Porte while he did a bit of multi-tasking in his hotel room.

PEZ: I gather the transfers have been a bit hectic of late. Can you give us the run down on what exactly happens after the finish of a stage?
RP: The stages finish at around 5.30pm and then I normally go to the presentation and doping control. I get changed on the bus while we are transferring to the hotel and tonight that was only 40minutes, which was reasonable short. After that, it is straight into the Hotel for a physiotherapy session, then I have my massage and then we have dinner. After that I go back to my room and jump on the computer and also have an acupuncture session and then it’s time for bed.

While we were chatting, Porte was up on the table having his acupuncture session, talking to us on the phone, checking is Facebook page (and marvelling about some of the request he gets from “friends” he has never met), and shooting off IM messages. Multi -tasking indeed!

PEZ: You finished the first real climbing stage of the Giro on Sunday and held on to your White Jersey. How did the legs feel there?
RP: I actually surprised myself and though that I would lose more time there. I just rode my own tempo to get up there. I finished that day alongside Brad Wiggins who seems to be riding himself back into a good GC position.

PEZ: That eigth stage was a fairly important one for your Team With Chris Anker taking the win.
RP: It was incredible to see him do that. At the start of the race, there were a lot of people who didn’t expect much of our team. Even is we do nothing for the rest of the Giro, I think we have done a fair job here. Chris was really pumped with that result. It’s a real shame he had his crash as without that he really would have been a challenger on the GC here at the Giro.

PEZ: You lost the White Jersey on the day of the TTT. How did you feel that day?
RP: I believe we were really unlucky with the weather that day. We got a huge downpour while we were waiting on the line ready to start. I really believe that on paper, we have a great team for the TTT but us and also Astana, were unlucky with the weather.

PEZ: What did you think about Saturday’s stage and the Strade Bianche?
RP: It was a brothel of a day actually. If I’d had any idea what it was going to be like before hand, I think I would have been a nervous wreck. I guess it made for good TV and that’s good for the public. Not so good for us, but there you go. I had Gustav Larsson and Didier looking after me throughout the stage, so I got through it OK. I know Liquigas had a few problems with crashes and it’s not really the ideal way to take a jersey back, but there you go.

PEZ: Are you worried about the White Jersey and keeping an eye on Kiserlovski and Agnoli?
RP: Not at all. I’m just riding for the GC and not thinking about who my White Jersey competition is. My director Kim Andersen has told me that if I just concentrate on the GC, then the white will take care of itself. There’s one of the Liquigas guys who is racing me and covering me all the time for the white, but I’m thinking about my overall position.

PEZ: You must feel pretty good to be part of the Australian success at this year’s Giro?
RP: Absolutely. With Gossy winning today and then the other guys over the weekend, I really think that says a lot about the depth of Australian cycling and I also believe is says a lot about how the sport is changing for the better. I’m also proud to be the first Tasmanian to be wearing the White Jersey since Michael Wilson, who was also Australia’s first Giro stage winner back in 1982 [Porte actually got his start in the amateurs in Italy following an invitation from his best friend Josh Wilson, who was following in his famous father’s footsteps.]

PEZ: Are you still catching up with Matt Goss in the bunch?
RP: Yeah, but the last time we were having a chat, which was on Friday’s stage, we both ended up hitting the deck together!

PEZ: Are there any other guys who you chat to regularly as you roll along?
RP: Yeah, different guys all the time, I guess, but there is one guy who has been making a point of seeking me out, and that is Cadel Evans. I really want to say what a great guy Cadel is. Even with all of the stress he is under, he still goes out of his way to find me and have a chat to me and offer me tips and advice. I really appreciate that coming from him and I really have to say that he is a credit to Australian cycling.

Come Tuesday morning, Porte had another reason to smile about the state of Australian cycling with his former training partner, mentor and the man he describes as his “Hero” Brett Lancaster, picking up a stage win at the Tour of California.

PEZ: Do you think it will be another day for the sprinters on Tuesday?
RP: Probably, but that still means it will be a stressful day for us. The biggest difference about racing a Grand Tour is the level of stress that riders find themselves under. The stages, even those for the sprinters, are raced from start to finish. It’s just another level of stress from what I am used to.

PEZ: What’s the plan from here?
RP: To conserve as much energy as I can. I actually feel pretty good at the moment, but I’m just taking it day by day, but I’m also going to be getting in there and fighting for my GC spot and this jersey too.

We’ll be catching up with Porte again before the Giro is over, so stay tuned to PEZ for the inside track on the 2010 edition of the Corsa Rosa.

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