Richie Porte is the only Australian to have won the overall title at Paris-Nice… and he’s done that twice. In both 2013 and 2015, he won the final stage time trial up the col d’Eze, before claiming the final yellow jersey. He talks to Rob Arnold about the experience that included a crash on the penultimate day. He also explains some details of his upcoming ride in the Giro d’Italia and changes to his time trial position…



Climbing to a time trial win on Sunday.  Photo: Graham Watson

Climbing to a time trial win on Sunday.
Photo: Graham Watson


It was just past nine o’clock in the morning in Monaco and Richie Porte was back in his apartment after having been to the gym for an early morning session. Two days earlier, he had climbed the nearby Col d’Eze, won a time trial and claimed the title of Paris-Nice. It was the second time he’d done so, backing up his efforts in 2013. This year, a compatriot – and another Australian living in Monaco – had also earned himself a prize jersey.

Richie got the yellow jersey. Michael Matthews took home the green one.

The two riders happen to be good friends. They race for different teams and have different qualities – the Tasmanian is a GC man, the Canberra boy is a sprinter. Both enjoyed success in Paris-Nice and neither took more than a few hours off before getting back to business.

The season is underway, there’s no time to party, reflect, or rest. They were both in the gym early working on honing their form for their next challenges.

The general classification and points classification winners spoke to RIDE’s Rob Arnold: Porte over the phone after the gym session, and Matthews via Skype with his coach beforehand. We’ll present the interviews in two parts… with the overall champion explaining his race first and then the green jersey winner who believes that he has what’s needed to win Milan-San Remo this coming weekend.


Before the interview with Richie formally began, he said how he was looking out the window at the wet streets. “I’m wondering if it’s time for an ergo session or I just accept what’s coming and go out there and ride in the rain for a few hours.”

Either way, it was clear that he was keen to get back on the bike on the Tuesday after his second victory in the so-called ‘Race to the Sun’. But first he was happy to chat.


Click the link below to listen to the exchange and/or read the transcript below to find out more about Richie Porte’s winning ride in Paris-Nice 2015.




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RIDE: I’m having a chat with Richie Porte. It’s two days since he became the winner of Paris-Nice, for a second time, with a victory on the Col d’Eze. He’s had a win in stage four as well… I just thought we’d find out what you’re up to for these next few days. Do you have any intentions of going to Milan-San Remo? 

Richie Porte: “No, none at all. I’m off to [the Vuelta a] Catalunya on Sunday so I’ve got a bit of time at home but I’m off on Thursday to Venice to have a look at the [course for the] time trial in the Giro… there’s a little bit of recovery time which I need but I’m straight back into it as well.”


I spoke with Michael Matthews a couple of hours ago and he was telling me that you had a dinner in Menton [after the final stage of Paris-Nice on Sunday] at one of your favourite restaurants and pretty much called it a day at about 10.30 after winning the race. Did it feel different this year to 2013? 

“Yeah. It does feel different to 2013. That was the first big race that I ever won – Paris-Nice in that year – but I think this year it was a little bit more stressful. On that Saturday stage, Geraint [Thomas] in my opinion lost his podium spot and I almost could have lost… or, well, we both could have totally lost the race with the way it went.

“It was a little bit stressful to give Tony Gallopin that time [in stage six] but then also the guys just behind me [in the general classification], like Spilak and Fuglsang and Kwiatkowski… I mean they were very, very close.

“I didn’t want to lose Paris-Nice just because of something so silly as riding on a wet day with tyres that obviously had way too much pressure in them.”


The loop [of vision] of you crashing has been seen on high rotation so we all understand what went on. But what did you feel when it happened – first of all, during the crash when you felt yourself slipping out, because we’ve all seen it… but also you bounced back up so quickly that you mustn’t have noticed any injury. Can you just talk about the sensation of falling? 

“Yeah, it was the second time I actually crashed that day – I also crashed with probably 100 kilometres to go so it doesn’t do much for the nerves. And obviously the Quickstep guys saw that we were the second team on the road in the echelon behind them and they saw, on these descents, that none of us were really descending well.

“Even somebody like Luke Rowe who is a brilliant descender, was sort of all over the place…

“I guess they [Quickstep] took advantage of that.

“We had the advantage that we knew the roads so well because we all live here in Monaco and it’s close to home.

“So there was never a point to really stress that much.

“I think if you see Tony Martin going bananas the col Saint-Roch then obviously they haven’t done their homework, they don’t know how hard a climb that is. And also the climb to Peille – in Australia that would be a ‘hors cat’ sort of climb… it’s a hard climb. It showed that they paid for that too. I mean Kwiatkowski, we dropped him [after] we eventually caught him. Obviously he came back on that descent…

“That road that I crashed on, I ride every second day. So it was a little bit frustrating to fall on a road that I know so well.”


And the feeling from that fall? You slammed your hip pretty heavily. There seemed to be no tear of the knicks… how did you pull up with your injuries? 

“I took a fair bit of skin off the hip and my right-hand [bum] cheek. If you crash like that I think it’s better to [get up]… you’re never going to sit there and think about it, are you? Paris-Nice is on the line. But, at the end of the day, I got back up and straight onto the bike.

“Thank god I didn’t drop my chain or anything like that because then I probably would have lost more time but, to be honest, it was just one of those [moments when] the adrenaline kicks in. It’s more frustrating than anything…

“On the Sunday – on the day of the col d’Eze time trial – I didn’t really have any pain until I woke up [on Monday morning]… I woke up with a ‘dead-leg’ and a ‘dead-arm’ sort of feel. But it was just a routine crash really.”



First and second for Sky in stage four… Porte ahead of Thomas.
Photo: Graham Watson


You referenced tyre pressure earlier so you would normally make amendments. What did you have in the tyres and what would you suggest… if someone hears [your comment] like that, they’d be curious for advice.

“That’s a little bit of the problem; the mechanics in our team work on ‘bar’ and we go on ‘PSI’. (Note: one bar is approximately 14.5 PSI.) We knew that there was seven-and-a-half bar in the tyres… for me, normally, when I’m training I [ride] on about 100psi. There’s a little bit of difference there but the thing with our team is at least we learn from the mistakes. Now we’re going to look into tyre pressures for every stage.

“It’s one of those little things that happens.”


It’s an interesting sidebar and I would be curious to find out what you end up with as being the good solution. I’m sure they’re doing it as a higher pressure because they want that minimal rolling resistance but in the wet amendments are required, obviously. It becomes a topic of equipment… 

“Yeah. Often on the start line of a race, you always hear guys letting pressure out of their tyres if it’s going to be wet. I actually did that day too but then you hear other people attacking you on social media saying, ‘Why didn’t you stop and let pressure out of your tyre?’ You want to say to those people, ‘Ah, this is professional cycling. It was one of those days when it was flat-out all day and we didn’t stop. We didn’t stop for a piss or anything like that…’

“It’s all well and good to try and be smart and say that sort of stuff but just the way the day went we didn’t… it was full-gas all day.”


And [Tony] Gallopin put on an amazing show. He’s no slouch. We understand that he can lead big bike races. On the last day, you had to make up 36 seconds and you eventually did it with ease… well, I’m sure it wasn’t easy for you but did you think for a while, ‘I wonder if I can get him…?’ 

“This is the thing with Tony: he was leading the Tour [de France] last year and we’ve raced him a lot. I know he’s a classy bike rider but it wasn’t the most comfortable thing to just go and give him a 36-second headstart… it played on my mind. But then on the morning of the time trial, I knew I was probably in the best form I’ve ever been in and I took confidence in winning the mountain stage, but I didn’t put a hell of a lot of time into him. I think I took 24 seconds out of him after attacking with a kilometre to go.

“I was quietly confident [for the final stage] but I think the thing that really got my confidence up was watching him on television on the replay of the [sixth] stage and he was there absolutely drilling it – and I knew that he probably had a harder day than what I did. I expect that maybe he was going to be more tired than me.

“But, like I said before, it wasn’t just Tony that we had to worry about – there was also the guys just behind me who are noted climbers and time triallers.”


And you end up ahead of two world champions: Kwiatkowski and Costa [in third and fourth overall]… [can you offer] a quick word about both of them…?

“Rui Costa… obviously he’s won the Tour de Suisse three times in a row now and he’s always won that uphill time trial there to win the race. He was a bit of an unknown quantity but for me it was Kwiatkowski that was more of a worry. He’s so young and I think he’s still finding his abilities. He’s an absolutely brilliant bike rider. We call him ‘Kawasaki’ in our team, that’s his nickname because he’s just a racer.

“Obviously in that prologue he and Rohan [Dennis] were just miles in front of anyone. He’s obviously in good shape and on Saturday – the stage into Nice – if we didn’t throw away 35 seconds it wouldn’t have been too stressful but then to start the time trial a second in front of [Kwiatkowski], it wasn’t an ideal scenario.

“It was actually nice… our team not having to defend [because Porte never actually wore the yellow jersey in the race, only at the very end of it]. It sort of worked into our favour that he did take the jersey back [after the day in yellow for Matthews] and that [Etixx-Quickstep] had to defend.”


People now say, ‘Okay, Richie is in form – he’s second in Tour Down Under, first in Paris-Nice…’ and the big objective is the Giro d’Italia. Your reconnoitring some of the courses this week. Obvious [the Giro] is the big [goal]. How do you manage the time between now and then?

“I think it’s just staying healthy. After the season I had last year, I think I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been. I’m on top of things; like I’m all over my diet, I’m happy with where I’m at, and I’ve got the support of [Tim] Kerrison who is an absolutely brilliant sports scientist and a great trainer… and he’s an Aussie.

“For me it’s exciting to go into the Giro.

“I think, obviously, with guys like Alberto [Contador] there and things like that, I’m ready to test myself against the best people.

“People were saying that ‘the best’ guys were in Tirreno-Adriatico [which is contested concurrently to Paris-Nice]… but I think, at the moment, [Vincenzo] Nibali is far from his best. I don’t think Alberto is flying… so I’m looking forward to next week, going to Catalunya, and testing myself against those guys.”


After what I saw of [Nairo] Quintana [in Tirreno-Adriatico, which he won yesterday] it’s good to know that he’s focussing on the Tour de France and the Giro is not a [title] defence option for him. Do you imagine it’ll be Contador versus you at the Giro? How do you see it unfolding? 

“I’d love it if that’s the case but I guess there’s always someone that’s [also challenging]. Rigoberto Uran has been second there two years on the trot – so there are guys there who are going to be motivated to have a good Giro.

“I think [Fabio] Aru, last year, was pretty good. But [before] Paris-Nice I heard that he was ‘absolutely flying’ and he was far from impressive there.

“I know it’s a long way out but I think I can really build on my form. I think there’s things like my time trialling that are still getting better and better every session I do.

“I’m pretty excited [about] the next two months.”


How long is the time trial that you’re having a look at this week?

“It’s the long one in the Giro. It’s like 62 or 64km… (note: stage 14, 59.5km). It’s a proper, long time trial.”


Porte in the prologue of Paris-Nice... with his revised, higher TT position. Photo: Graham Watson

Porte in the prologue of Paris-Nice… with his revised, higher TT position.
Photo: Graham Watson


It looks to me, even looking at the prologue images [from Paris-Nice] on the tellie, that you have had some changes in the time trial. You seem to be able to get your head in down between your shoulders. Have you been working on position? 

“I did a lot of work on it last year at the end of the season.

“I’d never been happy, when I came to Sky, with my time trial position. We found some things with the Retül from my [Specialized] Shiv at Saxo Bank – where I actually could time trial – to the last few years with my set-up at Sky… I was way too low at the front and we’ve actually bought the bars up a long way…

“I’m small anyway, so I’m going to be aero wherever you put me but I can actually get my power out now which is, for me, one of the sweetest moments was at the nationals… winning that was sort of a little bit… I took confidence in beating guys like Rohan and ‘Durbo’ and ‘Heppy’ in a time trial.”


How much higher are the bars? 

“Ten centimetres, that’s how far I’ve come up.”


How much!? Ten centimetres!?

“Yeah. And I’ve actually gone up a bike frame size.

“The base for [the handlebars] is 10 centimetres higher…

“Obviously it’s a bigger bike.

“They had to put me onto a bigger bike to actually get that much higher.”


Okay. And you notice the difference on the power meter? 

“Yeah. I still did ‘okay’ time trials, like in the Tour on long, non-technical time trials… but it was as uncomfortable as all hell. But certainly now, when I’m training and when I have to look at the power meter after I’ve done the efforts I am putting out closer to what I used to do.”


And with no real aero disadvantage…



It’s good to be short, isn’t it?

“Yeah. Sometimes.”


Hey, we could talk all day – clearly. But what are we missing? Any last things you want to add for this chat?

“Ah, no. Well, I’d like to touch on ‘Bling’.”


Can we? Is he going to win on Sunday? 

“Obviously he impressed me a lot on the Saturday stage [of Paris-Nice]. And Ben Swift as well. Between those two guys – because we’re good mates – I’d love to see them do well [in Milan-San Remo].

“You see that Michael is in great form. I’ve just been at the gym with him actually… I think he’s growing up. He’s matured. Anybody who knows him, knows that he’s a lot more mature. He’s kind of losing that whole ‘Bling’ thing… if he’s not already, he’s going to be The Next Big Thing in Aussie cycling.”


– Interview by Rob Arnold