Richie Porte of team Saxo Bank ended today a three-day run in one of cycling's most recognised jersey, the Giro d'Italia's pink top of best classification rider.
The Monte Grappa climb, with gradients up to 14, cracked the young Australian from Tasmania and put him on the defence. Winner of stage eight to Monte Terminillo and team-mate, Chris Anker Sørensen came to his rescue. He paced Porte over the climb and down to the finish in Asolo, nearly keeping the jersey by just 39 seconds to new leader, Spaniard David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne).
"It was hard. I lost the jersey, but I am content. It was three days more than I thought I would ever have in it. My team was incredible today, they sacrificed their own race for me," Porte said.
"It has been a humbling experience to have it. It has been incredible. I am happy man."
The 2010 Giro d'Italia is the 25-year-old's first Grand Tour. He started the race after having just won a time trial stage at the Tour of Romandy.
Porte put in an amazing time trial ride on the first day of the Giro d'Italia to finish sixth behind Bradley Wiggins and take the white jersey of best young rider. He maintained the white top and then went one better Wednesday.
The stage to L'Aquila saw an escape of 56 men ride free, including Porte. He took over the race lead at the end of the rainy day and carried it through to today, the race's first high-mountain stage. The 1675m Monte Grappa climb in northern Italy ended his run in pink, but did not stop him from dreaming of the white jersey.
He leads the standings ahead of Croatian Robert Kiserlovski (Liquigas-Doimo) by 1'56".
"My old mate, Kiserlovski he is chasing his own team-mates, so I guess it is game on," continued Porte, with a smile and good humour. "It will be fun and games."
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
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