Richie Porte wasted no time stepping off the Tour de France podium in Paris to race home and meet his two-week-old daughter, Eloise.
So quickly in fact that he forgot his house keys so his wife had to meet him at the door.
- Richie Porte’s wife gave birth to their second child in the first week of the Tour de France
- The chivalry of fellow riders helped Porte recover from a stage 18 puncture that threatened his podium dream
- This year’s Tour de France was Porte’s last as leader of the Trek-Segafredo team
“It was the first time I got to see Eloise, babies are just so tiny at that age,” he told ABC Radio Hobart.
“It was quite an emotional moment.
“I wouldn’t change that for anything.”
The Monaco-based Tasmanian, who saw injuries and illness derail past Tour de France campaigns, on Sunday became only the second Australian to secure a podium finish at cycling’s biggest race.
Missing the birth
Eloise was born during the first week of the three-week Tour, making Porte more determined than ever.
“It sort of played on my mind.”
Porte’s wife, Gemma, was quoted earlier in the Tour as saying to her husband: “Go do it, but I don’t want to see you loafing at the back of the peloton.”
“My wife is from Manchester. They breed them pretty tough there,” he said.
“You don’t mess with the boss, and obviously a decision like that is a pretty big deal and we had a good conversation.
“She will forgive me making that decision.”
Flat tyre adds to anxiety
The 35-year-old’s bid for the podium looked under threat when his bike got a puncture towards the end of stage 18, one of the toughest of this year’s 21 stages.
“In the last 30 kilometres there is a super-high climb which finished on a gravel incline, which is stressful enough,” Porte said.
“Everyone in the group was wondering if it was them, but I knew pretty much straight away that it was me.
“I thought, ‘Here we go again, this is just my luck that I’m going to lose my top 4’.”
Chivalrous riding companions
But the competitive nature of the Tour de France at times gives way to riders not taking advantage of the misfortune of others.
“I was lucky enough to have a number of guys from the Jumbo Visma team who were happy enough to help me,” Porte said.
“They gave me a few little turns to help me get back to their leader … it is nice to have friends in the peloton.
“I get along very well with those two guys [Tom Dumoulin and Wout van Aert], so they were more than willing to give me a little bit of a hand.”
Sharing the spoils of victory
It was Porte’s last Tour de France with the Trek-Segafredo team, and he was tight-lipped about who he would be riding with in 2021.
The cycling teams have a number of support staff — 30, in the case of Trek-Segafredo.
“Obviously the prize money to win the Tour is quite big, and to be third is still a couple of hundred thousand euros,” Porte said.
“This is divided up with the team and staff, we all get an equal cut.
“I will also get a nice lump sum for being on the podium, but I will divide that up with some of the guys as well.
“Twenty-one days of racing is a hell of an adventure and you do become very close to your team-mates and the staff on the race.”
Growing up riding
Porte was born in Launceston and spent summers at a shack on Tasmania’s east coast.
“My Dad was right into his surfing, but for me I was into cycling — going out and doing Elephant Pass and things like that,” he said.
Elephant Pass, while not as high as some of the mountains in France, would still rival some of the passes on the Tour, with its series of switchback corners and steep gradients.
“That’s the beauty of Tassie, the most unspoilt place in the world, so unique,” Porte said.