Richie Porte says winning the Critérium du Dauphiné “feels like a Tour de France victory”, elated after holding on to yellow during a difficult final day in the mountains to close out the stage race.
“Paris-Nice has always been a sweet one to me because it’s my adopted home but for me this is the race I’ve been so close to winning so many times, second a couple of times, and to finally finish it off with this team is a dream come true,” Porte said after the finish of where this win ranks on his palmarès.
The only real moment it looked precarious was in the closing kilometres after Geraint Thomas slid out on the descent of the final climb, the Welshman making it back on after Porte had been momentarily isolated, but the Tasmanian says he feels he could have counted on compatriots Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious) and Ben O’Connor (Ag2r Citroën) if he’d needed assistance.
“We had a couple of Australians there,” Porte said of the moments after Thomas had crashed and was forced to chase back. “Jack was always going to help me out and Ben closed the gap to a couple of those guys on the descent, but full credit to G because coming into this race he said he was all in for me, come July I’ll be hopefully returning the favour for him, helping to win the Tour.”
The victory rarely seemed in doubt, given Ineos’ strength in depth, with Thoma placing on the podium and Tao Geoghegan Hart also sneaking into the top 10 on the final day, the British squad will hope this form transfers over to the main event in a few weeks.
“There were certain times there where you were waiting for attacks but we have so much talent in depth it does make it a lot easier,” Porte explained, and will surely be hoping the same is true when they come up against the likes of Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar next month.
“I mean, even the last 400m it’s rare that you can let it sink in and just enjoy, it’s just brilliant, I’ve always wanted to win this race, the second Aussie to do it and I’m over the moon.”
As for the hard work to come before the start in Britanny at the end of June, Porte says it’s nothing compared to the demands of being a father of two young children, his latest being born during last year’s French Grand Tour: “I’ve got two kids under three at home, nothing’s hard compared to that,” he joked.
“No, I’m under no illusions that I’m here [at Ineos] to help out and I think the way that Tao and G and those guys helped me I would love to repay them,” Porte added of winning the Dauphiné ahead of his leader at the upcoming Tour. “I don’t need that stress and pressure, I don’t know how they do it. For me, this feels like a Tour de France victory.”
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