Richie Porte Blog: Calm before the Giro d’Italia storm

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I packed my shopping bag, left the house and am currently sitting in the departure lounge in Nice waiting for my flight to Budapest.

It’s Giro d’Italia time, and while I’m super excited, there’s also a hint of sadness at this point. It’s obviously the last time I’m going on a three-week race, but on top of that, saying goodbye to the wife and children is never easier.

We spent quality time together in the preparation for the race, and that was very important. It also allowed me to disconnect a bit and enjoy some family time before things got hectic and very busy.

Preparing for a grand tour is always a trying affair, especially as we get closer to the start. These are long days with check-ups, press conferences and lots of last-minute calls that you don’t really factor into your schedule.

Sure, it’s not as difficult as the actual race, but it’s a different style of demanding, and there’s very little time to relax and soak up the atmosphere that makes the Giro d ‘Italia so special. By Friday we will be on autopilot and the team has sorted everything out for us.

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On Wednesday we do our main health check, then it’s time for the race briefing with all the riders. It’s a chance to check out all the cool new haircuts guys are going to be rocking with and we’ll see who skinny and whose super skinny.

I’m sure there will be some pretty quick haircuts, but at this point the excitement and tension are already starting to build. It’s also a bit disconcerting to be honest because it’s the first time all the racers will be together, and it’s the first chance to get to know some of your rivals.

It’s not like the UFC or anything, but you still like to see what everyone is like and the vibe at certain camps.

Then there are Whatsapp groups. We have the one from the Giro des runners which is mostly full of discussions about equipment during the race. We talk about the wheels we’re going to use, the clothes and things like that. Then we have the Ineos chat which shares logistical information like room lists and departure times for each day.

The phone is going crazy at this point with everything from jersey questions to GPX files. You know it’s race time when it starts to happen.

“Carapaz raised his hand to be the great leader”

In terms of my form, I have made good efforts in recent days. I did my usual ride on the Madone, which I do wherever I go for a grand tour, and the body is in good shape. I really followed my diet too, and the weight is good.

Perhaps just as importantly, I feel like I’m in a really good mental position heading into the race. The team did a very good job of protecting me as well. I came back to this team at the start of 2021 to alleviate some of the stress and pressure that can build up as a professional rider, and I’ve had that in the past on big tours.

Richard Carapaz has his hand raised when it comes to being the great leader, so as long as I’m there to help him, that’s all I need to focus on. It means I can just focus on my job and help someone win. There’s a really good atmosphere within the team and if we can get off to a good start, we’ll just aim to keep that momentum going until the final week.

What also helps is the experience we have in the team car. This year we have Matteo Tosatto, Christian Knees and Ollie Cookson as directors. Toso ran 34 grand laps in his career, and I don’t think there are many guys who have done more.

I remember racing the 2011 Giro with him and he was already in his twenties at that time. Bjarne Riis used to be completely in awe of the guy, and I don’t think there are many storylines he hasn’t dealt with first hand.

We will also have our own team meeting in the next few days, probably on Thursday. Of course, a performance plan has already been sent out and everyone’s role has been put on paper, as well as expectations.

There are no secrets about everyone’s work, but we’ll sit down and chat anyway. This kind of thing also helps foster team spirit. We have a great team on the race and tonight we will have dinner as a group for the first time.

At the forefront of my mind however is my family. I’ll be focused on the race from the start, but every day I’ll look forward to those video calls with home. Right now though, I’m about to board my flight. See you in a few days.

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