Porte finally breaks Tour jinx with expected podium finish

RONCHAMP, France (Reuters) - Richie Porte has not been the luckiest man on the Tour de France, to say the least, but on Saturday the Australian was relieved to finally break his jinx at the world’s greatest cycling race as he looked set to savour a podium place.

Cycling - Tour de France - Stage 20 - Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles - France - September 19, 2020. Trek-Segafredo rider Richie Porte of Australia in action. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

The Trek-Segafredo rider moved up to third in the general classification when he took third place in the final time trial, leapfrogging Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez in the 36.2-km solo effort against the clock.

“It’s been a journey, most of you know the dramas on the way,” the 35-year-old Tasmanian, who broke into the limelight when he won the young riders classification at the Giro d’Italia in 2010, told reporters.

Porte, who is now 3 minutes 30 seconds behind leader Tadej Pogacar, has a 2:28 lead over Spain’s fourth-placed Mikel Landa going into Sunday’s final stage, the largely processional ride to the Champs Elysees in Paris.

After putting his Tour de France individual ambition on pause while riding for Team Sky, Porte took up the leading role at BMC in 2016, but things did not turn out as expected.

He took fifth place overall in 2016 but the next two years went pear-shaped.

A dramatic high-speed crash in the Alps in 2017 left him battered, bruised and out of the Tour and one year later, again on stage 9, he sustained a broken collarbone on a cobbled section.

Porte finished the 2019 Tour, albeit in 11th place overall, and perhaps it was just what he needed to believe he could make it unhurt to Paris again.

It did, however, mean that he missed the birth of his daughter Eloise during the first week of the Tour.

“I came here, I knew I had a mission to achieve,” said Porte.

“Nothing really matters, this is a game to be honest, but to miss the birth, this result is a way to make it worthwhile.”

Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by Ian Chadband