When Australian Richie Porte started to race in Europe for the then Saxo Team, in 2010, he had a golden future ahead of him. And to be fair, the 33-year-old rider now has lists of victories to his name. But every time he talks about his high goals for a race, it strangely seems to bring bad luck.
The early years
In 2010 everything was going great. Porte made a huge impression that year: during the UCI Road World Championships, Porte finished just next to the podium, and this fourth-place finish gave him the taste for a win. The Giro that year went really well for him too. He a wore the pink jersey for a few days, eventually won the youth classification, and finished seventh in the general classification.
The following year, Porte rode in favour of Alberto Contador, who then won the Giro. Also during the Tour de France he supported the leader, and Contador settled for fifth place. The results of the Spaniard were eventually scratched due to the clenbuterol affair, so Porte’s achievements are hard to find in the record books.
In 2012 he switched to Team Sky to ride as a domestique for Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. In the Tour he was an important part of Wiggins’ victory, and in the Vuelta he rode with Chris Froome for a long time. However, he wasn’t contending for the general classification himself, as in the Giro of 2010.
In 2013 Porte finally had his breakthrough. He started the year strongly by winning Paris-Nice. Next, in the Tour of the Basque Country and the Dauphiné he finished second in the general classification. In the Tour de France, however, he had to race in favour of Froome again—which he executed excellently, because Froome won that Tour.
Slowly but surely, it was time for Porte to stand on his own and show what he could do in the Grand Tours. In 2014, however, everything went badly due to illnesses. This was the beginning of Porte’s bad luck. The following year we saw another good pre-season for him, as he won Paris-Nice again, and in the Giro that year everything went great in the first week. The second week however was disastrous, thanks to his bad luck. First, he had a flat tire five kilometres from the finish line, and right after that he was involved in a crash. As a result, he rode a dramatic time-trial and wasted all his energy for the last stage where he lost almost half an hour on the leader Contador. It was enough of a reason for him to throw in the towel.
In the following Tour, Porte proved invaluable again as super-servant of Froome, who couldn’t thank Porte enough for his second Tour de France victory.
After having spent several years supporting the winner, Porte decided enter the BMC Team in 2016 and begin going for the Grand Tours. In all fairness, his first Tour for BMC was not that bad: at the start he had some mechanical bad luck and lost a lot of time, but after that he performed consistently. He finished the Tour fifth, which is still his best performance in a Grand Tour so far.
But during the last two editions of the Tour de France his bad luck returned. In 2017 he had a big crash during the descent of the Mont du Chat and he had to scratch. And again this year, during the ninth stage, he had to quit after he broke his collarbone in another crash.
The big question is whether we will ever see Porte on the podium in a Grand Tour. He certainly has the talent, but at 33 years he is starting to question his future. The BMC Team stops after this year and, as far as we know, he has not yet found a new team.