By Gregor Brown
Team Sky's Richie Porte won the Australian time trial championship this morning in Victoria ahead of Rohan Dennis (BMC) and Jack Bobridge (Budget Forklifts).
"I am a happy boy. To win this time trial in such a class field, it's fantastic," Porte said with the white, green and yellow championship jersey.
"I am absolutely thrilled to have this jersey, to be able to race in Europe with a national time trial championship jersey."
For the 29-year-old Tasmanian, it is a fresh start after what he called a "rough" 2014 season. With the title in hand, he will race the road championships and the Tour Down Under in January before returning to Europe.
The time trial win was his biggest in the discipline since 2013, when he won the Col d'Èze stage on his way to winning Paris-Nice overall and the Critérium International time trial.
He covered the 40.9-kilometre course in Buninyong, Victoria, in 51-50 minutes. Dennis finished eight seconds back and Bobridge at 27 seconds – both of whom are attempting the Hour Record in the next month.
Porte will be hoping his troubles of 2014 are firmly behind him. After a good start to 2014, he fell sick, had to miss the Giro d’Italia and suffered in the Tour de France after Chris Froome abandoned. The difficulties, he explained, made him hungrier.
"The problem for me last year was my health and it looks like I am back on top of it," Porte said.
"Credit to [Sky’s Head of Athletic Performance] Tim Kerrison who believed in me even after the disaster which was 2014."
Porte is due to lead Sky at the Giro d'Italia in 2015 after missing his shot in 2014. In his debut year with team Saxo Bank in 2010, he led the race and won the white jersey as best young rider.
First, he will focus on Sunday's road championship and the Tour Down Under, January 20 to 25.
"You can count on one hand the number of nights I've had put, drinking whatever, letting my hair down. I'm focused. It's a big year for me," Porte added.
"There are a lot of people that are questioning me and my ability, but for me this year … I've got some big goals and [this win is] a fantastic way to start it."
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