Richie Porte capped an emotional but productive week with a winning return to competition.
A week after his wife Gemma gave birth to their first child, the Launceston rider helped his team seize control of the Tour de Suisse – his final race before another tilt at the Tour de France.
Amid the dual celebrations, Porte remained embroiled in the saga surrounding his team seeking its WorldTour survival for next season, although family dominated the 33-year-old’s post-race comments.
“A little baby boy arrived last Saturday and that was the most incredible thing,” Porte told reporters.
“I found new respect for my wife watching it. It was absolutely brutal, but it really puts things into perspective when you have your first newborn. It's the best thing that's ever happened.”
Porte’s Swiss-sponsored team dominated the nine-stage race’s opening time trial, clocking 20:18 over 18.3 kilometres around Frauenfeld to win by 20 seconds.
Home country rider Stefan Küng was given the honour of leading the team over the line to claim the yellow jersey, but Porte took control of the points classification and assumed race favouritism in a shared victory dedicated to late team owner, Andy Rihs.
“That was my first team time trial since 2015 when I was with Team Sky and they were beaten by BMC Racing Team,” Porte said.
“It was absolutely incredible. You really have to tip your cap today to Stefan Küng. He was like ten men. He was absolutely flying so, it was very impressive.
“It's been a while since I raced so I don't really know where I am at but it was just fantastic to come to the Tour de Suisse, the home of Andy Rihs, and be able to win the stage. I think we dedicate the win to Andy.”
With none of the riders under contract beyond this season and management hunting for additional funding, Porte was inevitably asked about BMC’s future.
“There's no beating around the bush. You can't deny it. It is crunch time. I really have my fingers crossed that this team continues because it's Andy Rihs' legacy and it would be a shame if it was to finish. I have a fantastic manager in Andrew McQuaid, who is the best in the business. He's doing his work behind the scenes. I'm confident. I ride my bike.”
Riders cannot officially sign UCI contracts before August 1.
Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale was the 15th team home, placing Campbell Town’s Will Clarke 72nd overall, 1:05 behind his regular Tasmanian training partner.