Aussie veteran cyclist Richie Porte eyes Olympic double after riding final Tour de France

Richie Porte has declared he has raced the Tour de France for the last time as he prepares to empty the tank at an Olympic swansong in Tokyo as well.

The 36-year-old Tasmanian is eyeing a medal in both the road race and the time trial in Japan where both courses are suited to his climbing prowess.

Porte is also eager to atone for the painful memories of his last Olympics in Rio where he was in medal contention in the men’s road race before he crashed out on a high-speed descent with just 35km of a 237.5km course remaining.

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Richie Porte endured a forgettable road raced in Rio.Source: Getty Images

“It does feel like a lifetime ago,” Porte told News Corp this week.

“It wasn’t the nicest Olympic experience obviously ending up in a hospital in Rio, so it would be nice to go these Games, albeit a strange Games for everybody, and have a bit better Olympic experience.

“It’s always nice to represent the country and something I get excited for, it’s a big motivation for sure.”

Porte has had a near flawless season to date, winning the Criterium du Dauphine and finishing second overall in the Tour of Catalunya and Tour of Romandie before working for Team Ineos leader Richard Carapaz at the Tour de France.

He has revealed he’s almost certainly ridden the Tour for the 11th and final time as he takes aim at different goals in the twilight of his professional career.

“Definitely it’s the last one I’ll do,” he said.

“I think I ticked the box last year with a podium finish, I’m not getting any younger and the race is only getting more and more crazy, so I feel like it’s time to pull the pin on my Tour career.

“It’s been a nice run, but it’s time.”

Porte will lead Australia’s team for the 244km road race in Tokyo which includes over 4800m of climbing at Mt Fuji. He will be supported by the likes of Luke Durbridge, Lucas Hamilton and Rohan Dennis, who is also eyeing a medal in the time trial.

“I’d say compared to last year when I rode for the general classification at the Tour (de France) for myself, it’s a much different scenario,” Porte said.

“Without all that stress and pressure every day, it’s been almost nice if you’re not needed you can get out of the chaos of the bunch sprints and do a job on a climb earlier and then not have to contest the final.

“So mentally, yes, it’s been a bit of a blessing in disguise, but the racing has still been hard so the form should be there.

Porte hopes to finish his Olympics career in style.Source: Getty Images

“It’s quite a lot of climbing in there (in Tokyo), unprecedented really for an Olympic road race but it’s a course that suits my characteristics.

“It’s been a funny (lead-in) with all the crashes and injuries and guys having to take themselves out of selection, but finally with Lucas Hamilton and Luke Durbridge coming in, we’re going to have a pretty good team there.”

Porte put the finishing touches to his Olympic preparation in the Stage 20 time trial at the Tour de France on Saturday before the peloton made it to Paris on Sunday.

“The time trials at the Tour are not like the one in Tokyo, there is 800m of elevation gain in Tokyo, but it’s always nice to get on the TT bike and have a good hit-out,” he said.

Australia’s men’s and women’s road cycling teams will still target medals in Tokyo despite two crash-marred lead-up events and last-minute rider changes in Europe.

Women’s team leaders Grace Brown and Amanda Spratt both abandoned the Giro Rosa in Italy in July after crashes, but are expected to be on the start line for the climber-friendly Olympic course on Mt Fuji on July 25.

But there have been two changes to the men’s team following an eventful Tour de France where Jack Haig was forced to pull out of the team for Tokyo when he broke his collarbone on Stage 3 and was replaced by Luke Durbridge.

Richie Porte will lead Australia’s charge for Olympic medals. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

National road race champion Cameron Meyer had already withdrawn from the Olympic team due to personal reasons, with his father battling brain cancer, and his replacement Lucas Hamilton abandoned the Tour de France with a dislocated AC Joint on Stage 13. But Hamilton will still race the 244km course in Tokyo on July 24.

The men’s team will be led by Richie Porte, who made it to the podium in the Criterium du Dauphine, Tour of Romandie and Tour of Catalunya this season before riding in support of Team Ineos leader Richard Carapaz at the Tour de France.

Porte will ride the road race and the time trial alongside compatriot Rohan Dennis, the two-time time trial world champion.

“Richie is really solid, we believe you’ll need good climbing legs so we are backing him as leader which is no surprise,” Australia’s high-performance director Simon Jones said.

“But to be honest as well, because of the small team sizes there is a high degree of uncertainty in the Olympic road races.

“We’ll go in with a plan that will maximise our chances, and a lot of the key protagonists are going to come from the Tour (de France), which has been an interesting race.

“But Richie is really motivated and we’re going to support him in the time trial as well, which has an elevation of 800m in hot and humid weather.

“It’s a hard time trial in the heat, so he and Rohan will race that and we’re giving ourselves more opportunities given the ambitions, motivations and the course.”

Tadej Pogacar is favourite to take home a gold medal. Picture: AFPSource: AFP

Two-time reigning Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar and his Slovenian teammate Primoz Roglic will be among the favourites for gold in the men’s road race in Tokyo.

Australia’s women’s team also includes 33-year-old Tiffany Cromwell and 20-year-old Sarah Gigante, who are both making their Olympic debuts. Gigante will ride the time trial alongside Brown.

Dutch trio Anna van der Breggen, Marianne Vos and Annemiek van Vleuten will start hot favourites for gold in the women’s road race.

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“The Dutch have proven they’re going to be very difficult to beat, but we believe we’ll go in with a race plan that gives us the maximum chance,” Jones said.

“We are thinking of winning the race, and we’ve spent the time thinking what options do we have and how do we get one up on the opposition?

“The Dutch’s strength can be an opportunity for us as well.”

Porte is eyeing a medal in both the road race and the time trial in Japan where both courses are suited to his climbing prowess.

The 36-year-old Tasmanian is also eager to atone for the painful memories of the Rio Olympics, where he was in medal contention in the road race before he crashed out on a high-speed descent with just 35km of a 237.5km course remaining.