The Tour de France kicks off in Dusseldorf, Germany on Saturday, July 1. In the lead-up to the Grande Boucle, we’ll be counting down the top-10 GC contenders this week.
There was a moment early in last year’s Tour de France when Richie Porte could have simply given up.
A puncture at the worst possible moment — with about five kilometers to go in stage 2 — saw him desperately wait as neutral support slowly changed his wheel. As he stood by the bicycle, the peloton barreled into Cherbourg for an uphill sprint won by Peter Sagan. The Tour’s clock was unforgiving. Porte limped across the line having lost nearly two minutes. His hopes to dethrone former teammate Chris Froome from the Tour’s podium were over.
Dejected? Yes. Surrender? No way.
“Last year taught me a lot,” Porte says. “I thought my Tour was over before it even started. I’m not a quitter. The guys see how much I fight.” Porte has always had a reputation for gritty panache, and last summer it was on full display. It was the manner in which he clawed his way back over the ensuing three weeks to secure a career-best fifth overall — less than one minute off the final podium — that confirmed his true character. The performance sealed his future, and brought him the leadership role at BMC Racing for the 2017 Tour de France.