Porte prepares for final Adelaide summit

Murray Wenzel |

The King of Willunga Hill admits he may choose to sit back and smell the roses on his final summit. 

Richie Porte will ride in Adelaide this week for the final time as a professional at the three-day Festival of Cycling.

The domestic event replaces the Tour Down Under for the second year because of international travel restrictions and won’t carry World Tour status.

But, just as he did as wildcard entrant on debut in 2008, the Australian great and 2020 Tour de France podium finishe is excited to see who takes their chance.

Porte, Rohan Dennis, Luke Durbridge, Cam Meyer, Luke Plapp, Cam Rogers and Chris Harper will ensure plenty of quality in a race that snakes from Stirling to Lobethal on Thursday’s opening stage.

Day two will take riders from Mount Lofty to Woodside, before they push from McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill – the decisive stage Porte has won seven times.

“This is where it all started for me, with a wildcard selection in 2008.” Porte reflected on Wednesday. 

“Willunga has been a bit of a stomping ground for me; it’s a race I’ll genuinely miss.

“It’d be nice to have a bit of a gallop up there, but let’s see what happens.

“It’d also be nice to slip out the back and enjoy it … that’d be a nice feeling as well.

“It’s a shame it’s not a World Tour event, but it’s a great opportunity for the young Aussie kids to show what they’re made of and test themselves … there’s some class bike riders here.”

His rivals aren’t buying talk of a go-slow though, Durbridge hoping to make up some ground before Porte inevitably takes it back.

“If it’s going to be Richie’s last time up Willunga we better hold on to our hats,” he said.

Adelaide product and Tokyo Games time trial bronze medallist Dennis is home to race for the first time in two years.

Dennis will use the event as a tune-up before he joins new team Jumbo Visma, where his focus will be on helping Primo Roglic end Tadej Pogacar’s Tour de France dominance.