Richie Porte's diary: I'm ready to lead

Stage 5: Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, 152.5km

As sad as it is to see teammate and good friend Chris Froome leave the Tour de France on Wednesday after he abandoned during the fifth stage due to his injuries from crashing, it has left me in a prime position to lead the team in his place.

And I’m going to take this chance to prove I can be up there on the general classification in which I'm now placed eighth [at 1 minute 54 seconds to race leader Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)].

The change in role and how it has come is a lesson in how quick circumstances can change for you not just in a bike race, but in your career; and how opportunity can come to you without warning.

Don’t think for a minute I'm not feeling for ‘Froomey'.

It’s sad to see him go.He is one of my best mates - we are roommates and train together back in Monaco where we both live during the season.

And he came into this race after doing so much work in great form which was boost for us all on the team as we prepared to help him defend his title. But it is not to be ...

As for Wednesday's cobblestone stage ... The nearest I have come to racing in something like that was in the 'Strade Bianchi stage' of the 2010 Giro d’Italia where the wet weather and white dirt on the roads left us caked in it.

Wednesday was a special day of racing with the weather, wind and the cobblestones - and the chaos around us all.

It didn't end at the finish line. Worse was at the hotel … when the doctor gave me the scrubbing brush to use in the shower to clean the wounds from my crash midway into the stage from gravel - one of the 'pleasures' of being a professional cyclist.

How I crashed after the second sector of cobbles is not exactly known. At the time, I was washing myself off from the mud and dirt that had covered me with water from my drink bottle when I was suddenly taken out by another rider.

I landed right on my wounds from my crash crashed on stage two to Sheffield, but at least I’m not seriously injured, nor did I need to undergo any X-Rays after finishing.

It was still a shock. It hurt and, coming when it did, I could have had got upset. But fortunately I had teammate Bernie Eisel there by my side to help – Bernie has so much experience and straight away just said to me: “No stress.”

With ‘Froomey’ now gone, I’ll probably have ‘Bernie’ as my roommate in his place which is a good thing too with all he knows.

On Wednesday, the help from Bernie and especially Geraint Thomas was absolutely vital to me getting back into the race after my crash, and then into position to gain some time on some rivals near the end.

Both are true one day classic riders who relish conditions and circumstances like what Wednesday threw at us.

And after hearing and seeing them race in the classics, to be on the receiving end of what they do so well was incredible.

You need a calm head like theirs to focus and be in control amidst the mayhem. And there was plenty of that on Wednesday.

At the end of the day it was all about trying to get over the finish line.

As a guy who weighs 60 kilograms, the cobblestones are not my terrain, but it was nice to get it done with limited time lost to Nibali who took third on the stage, and take time on some of the others.

And believe it or not, when we actually got into it I enjoyed it.

As for Nibali … he is a born racer.

His ride to not just keep the yellow race leader’s jersey, but to take a good chunk of time on us was pure class.

But despite all that has happened in the last five stages, the Tour has only just begun. I'm really looking forward to it too.

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