Richie Porte's had his dream winning the Giro d'Italia's pink jersey confirmed this morning when he turned on his mobile phone to read a message of congratulations from the Premier of Tasmania, David Bartlett.
The 25-year-old of team Saxo Bank won the leader's jersey yesterday after forming part of a mega-escape. He suffered over the 262 kilometres, through the rain and cold, but got the prize. Today, he enjoyed it, riding up the costal roads of eastern Italy, under sunshine.
"I heard my name a few times, it is quite humbling for a guy from a little guy from Tasmania," he told Cycling Weekly. "It was a good day."
He called a pee break a couple of times during the stage, his right as new race leader. It also helped him shake his nervousness and pass the early hours, when he was still feeling uneasy from this morning's diarrhoea.
The flat, 208-kilometre stage from Città Sant'Angelo to Porto Recanati had no affect on his overall lead. Filippo Pozzato won in his Italian championship jersey and Porte, in pink, finished the stage in 25th.
"It was beautiful day, but it bloody hurt. I think we were all in the same boat, suffering after yesterday."
The announcer called Porte on the podium to award him his second pink jersey. He made a joke about 'Porte' and 'Porto' Recanati, and the Italians loved it. They cheered and applauded him as one of their own.
Porte understood the joke, he speaks a little Italian from his time living in Monsummano Terme as an amateur racer.
"They call the Tour de France the biggest race, but the Giro d'Italia is the most beautiful race in the world," continued Porte. "I am just an average fellow from Australia, leading the most beautiful bike race in the world."
He should easily lead the race through tomorrow's stage, but this weekend will be his first test as a Grand Tour leader. The high mountains stages start with Saturday's stage to Asolo and continue with the race's second mountain-top finish on Sunday, the Monte Zoncolan.
If Porte survives, he will enjoy a well-earned rest day in San Vigilio di Marebbe and probably get another message from Bartlett.
Giro d'Italia 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
2010 Giro d'Italia coverage in association with Zipvit
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