Richie Porte Gets CT’d
I'll be posting the audio interview later today so you can hear the tone on the conversation. It makes a huge difference and you'll hear right away that he's a "salt of the Earth" type of guy who absolutely loves to ride his bike.
Feel free to post any comments for Richie…He might even answer a few.
CT: So you come out of the Giro with a pink and white jersey and you have to mop your own floors and get your own groceries when you get home. Now that you’ve had a bit of time to digest it, what can you say about your Giro experience and how does it all feel now that you’re back to reality? Are you still on a high from the Giro or are you back on the ground?
Richie Porte: Ahh, it’s reality, you know. I guess it’s a bit of both. I have to stay grounded. I had an easy week last week and now I have to get back into training. Nothing really lasts, does it…
CT: Do you feel or create pressure on yourself to perform straight away or did the Saxo Bank structure allow for you do be eased into the pro scene?
Richie Porte: There was no pressure from the team coming into it. It’s just me isn’t it [the pressure]…I go to my first Grand Tour and my goal was just to get through it. Instead I take two jerseys and just created that much stress for myself. Even through the race there was no pressure from the team. I’m my own worst critic. It would have been horrible to fold under the pressure. But I don’t think I did. It’s a great team [Saxobank] and this is what they do. They start guy’s careers and they know how to deal with us.
CT: Did you ever feel a bit intimidated by the step up to the ProTour or were you always confident that you could mix it up with these guys?
Richie Porte: Not really. I went to the Saxobank training camp and I had pretty good form and I was one of the better in most of the tests we did and it took someone like Frank Schleck to say to you “wow…you can ride a bike”. And then I had a bit more confidence.
But the first part of the season were not happy memories. It was horrible. It was very tough. Races like Paris-Nice…just a struggle.
CT: A struggle physically or mentally from the changes and being away from home?
Richie Porte: I don’t really get homesick now because Europe is home for me now. It [Paris-Nice] was just a bloody hard race. Crosswinds, hard climbs, and there’s Contador as well. If Contador comes out to play you’re going to suffer. We had the jersey on Jens Voigt and we rode on the front all day only to be smashed by Astana for the last 30km. They just came to the front and just smashed us. Ah, but he’s incredible, isn’t he? He’s the best there is at the moment. That was a reality check early on.
CT: So after that, did you surprise yourself in Romandie and the Giro?
Richie Porte: Romandie – yes. That was a big shock. People said what they will and questioned it, but you can’t hold onto a car or anything like that in ProTour racing. I beat some big names by a nice little margin. After I did that I climbed with some of the best guys in the world and had the confidence but I didn’t expect to have the Giro that I did.
CT: As a neo-PRO, give us an insight into Riis Cycling and Saxobank we wouldn’t read in the magazines?
Richie Porte: It’s more the camaraderie in the bus. Stuey O’Grady was talking about one of the new teams having the internet on their bus along with this and that. From the outside that looks good, but on our bus we all sit together and hang crap on each other. There’s nobody on the team who doesn’t get along. We all get on so well. That’s what Bjarne prides himself on doing. He won’t take good riders if they’re not going to fit into his team. For me, it’s my first pro team but I feel it’s a good team. It’s a nice place to be.
CT: You’ve said before that your training is now more specific than it was when you were an amateur. What exactly is more specific?
Richie Porte: The power efforts that we do. Bradley MaGee is my coach now and he’s a bit of a guru when it comes to power training. Last year I pretty much rode my bike and got away with it. Whereas this year when I just rode my bike I didn’t get away with it. When we put more specific efforts like long power efforts it turned my form around in the space of one month.
CT: To give people an idea of what it takes to compete at your level, can you tell us what your Threshold Power is? What power do you try to settle in at at during a TT?
Richie Porte: What was it… 448 watts for a 10min prologue. For a little guy like me it’s not too bad.
CT: What weaknesses are you trying to improve upon?
Richie Porte: I’m not a bad climber and people said I can’t climb, but I was going up some big mountains in the second group. My team just said to me there’s no point trying to go with Evans and Basso and those guys. I never went into the red in any of the mountains. It’s just best to ride your own pace. I think that paid off for me. Hopefully in time I can be climbing with the best. I’ve got a few little weaknesses, but it’s more that I’m inexperienced in the bunch. It’s more important for me to keep racing. The more racing I do the better I seem to get. I mean, that’s not a problem when you look at the programs that we do. There’s a lot of racing.
CT: So has being employed full-time as a cyclist taken any of the fun out of it?
Richie Porte: Not at all…it’s probably put more fun into it. Financially you’re rewarded. It’s just incredible, you know? You pinch yourself when you’ve got brothers and mates working at home in Tasmania with 9-5 jobs and look what I do. I get up whenever I want and cruise out the door…in Monaco! It’s not such a bad thing.
CT: Is there anything you do differently as a neo pro than someone that a seasoned pro like Cancellara or O’Grady would do?
Richie Porte: The difference with those guys is that they’ve been doing it for so long that they know their bodies inside out and they do more what they want to do. Whereas someone like me, I don’t have the experience. But that’s when you use someone like Brad MaGee who have been pro basically all their lives. That’s where it’s really helped. They really know what I’m going through.
Stuey and them, they do go out and do specific work but it’s a lot different program to what I have to do so I can’t really look at them guys and copy them. Certainly my training is more regimented at the moment.
CT: What do you think can be attributed to the recent success of Australian cyclists?
Richie Porte: I think it’s changing times in the peloton. The whole biological passport, you’d have to say that it’s working, it’s paying off. Because if a guy like me it going top 10 it’s incredible. People can say whatever they want about cycling but look at the measures they’ve taken. Three Australians in jerseys and then you had Lancaster winning a stage in California and Rogers taking the GC. It’s exciting times for Australian cycling.
CT: How does the UCI testing and whereabouts program impact your life?
Richie Porte: It is annoying but it’s not hard to update it [the whereabouts]. But the thing that the general public don’t see when you do a doping test is that it’s a pretty traumatic experience. You’ve got your genitalia out in front of people pissing in the toilet, it’s not a pleasant experience. It’s humiliating. But hey…it’s what’s gotta happen. Cycling has the reputation but at least we’re out there doing something to clean it up.
CT: Do you think racing in Australia helped you prepare for your European experience?
It’s still nice to race in Australia and it’s a good level. Back in the day we’d go to races with Rob McLachlan and guys like that, and they were good bike riders – they’d be good bike riders anywhere. I never won a race in Australia but I got off the place in Italy and won my first race there within two weeks. You can’t say anything bad about the level of Australian cycling domestically.
CT: I heard you might be coming back to Australia for a break in July. Is that true?
Richie Porte: I was thinking of doing it but now when I look out the window and the weather is so good…it’s just easier to stay here in Europe. I’ve got my apartment here now so it really is like home. It was just the whole stress of the Giro. I was a horrible person to be around for 3 weeks. After such a successful Grand Tour just after I left I had to apologise to two thirds of the staff. Everybody has their breaking point and for me it was pretty stressful.
CT: So when you do end up coming back to Tassie for a visit, what will be the first training ride you do?
Richie Porte: There’s a loop called the Scottsdale Loop that we do that’s about 170km from my house and it’s got some beautiful scenery and some good climbs and not too many log trucks. Rides like that I miss because here it’s just traffic bloody everywhere. Tassie is up there with having some of the best riding in the world.
CT: What’s the sentiment on the team about all the stuff that’s been going around about Cancellara using the motor?
Richie Porte: All I’ve seen in the official statement, but c’mon (laughs), what next? I talked with Cassani and I think what’s happened is the video everyone is seeing has been heavily edited. It seems like cycling is fixing one problem and they you get other stuff happening like this. Whatever Fabian does, people think it’s too good to be true. I’ve seen how he trains. He sat at the back of the bunch in our whole two week training camp just doing nothing but telling us to ride slower. Then on the last day on a steep climb he just came out and just blasted everybody. He’s such a class act.
CT: Last question Richie. What is your current mobile ring tone?
Richie Porte: It’s just the standard iphone ring. That’s all it is. I’m quite a simple lad. All the guys here, they like their Ferraris and stuff like that, but if I ever get into the money I’ll get the Hilux Ute. That would be me.