Wednesday, May 26, 2010

From Tasmanian pool attendant to high-GC contender. What next for Porte after this Grand Tour?

There's a lot of luck involved in all sports, as well as dedication, professionalism, hard work and the backing of a good team. Now we can all apply ourselves to a sport like cycling and do the big miles, watch our diet, learn tactics and skills as we go and still get little back other than some great memories, lasting friendships and a feeling of "what if". As in 'what if I'd given up my day job?' or 'what if I'd started racing when I was 16, or even 12?'. Maybe even 'what if I'd gone to Europe?'. Now if you are young enough you can still attend to some of these choices - as that's what they are. Life choices. Not guarantees, mind, but an opportunity that probably only comes along at that exact moment in your life. Choose it or loose it. Of course you may choose to pursue something else and make a success of it, but that "other" option is gone.

On a personal note I can still remember (it rings in my ears) a coach suggesting to me that I needed to decide what was more important - to be as race-fit as I could be or to maintain a full-time job. Well at the time everything else in my life had confirmed to me that a stable, full-time job was essential, so the choice was automatic. For me cycling remained a hobby, a great big one that has almost consumed my life at times, but a hobby nonetheless. 25 years later my perspective is different and I can assess these life-choices more clearly, but I can't go back.

With that preamble in mind, what if you lived in Tasmania, far from the Euro-pro cycling world but were lucky enough to be influenced by a small group of current and ex-pro bike racers who lived nearby? You got into the sport, did well, and had the connections to get you to Europe on a good squad. You did well - very well - but came back injured and a little disillusioned. What if you got a pep talk at just the right time and went back to Europe and got yourself into one of the top pro teams? What if you found that your "engine" was as good as anyone's and on your day could spring a big surprise? What if you found yourself in the right break that propelled you into the lead of a Grand Tour and led to you holding onto a top-3 position on GC into the 3rd week? Well there's a mix of fortune, circumstance, opportunity and ability to marvel at.

And you'd be Richie Porte, wouldn't you? 

Porte's Dream Continues At The Giro |
At his first attempt in a Grand Tour, Richie Porte remains near the top of the Giro d'Italia standings during the third week after producing a solid ride up the Plan de Corones.