Launceston’s Richie Porte got through his first competitive stage since crashing out of this year’s Tour de France unscathed.
In his final major race for BMC Racing team, the destined Trek-Segafredo rider pushed through a pre-race illness to post a time of 10 minutes and 30 seconds on the opening day of the Vuelta a España in Malaga.
The time is comparable to a number of general classification contenders, with teammate Rohan Dennis taking out the stage one time trail in 9:40.
“I think the lead up to a grand tour is always a little stressful and mine definitely hasn’t been ideal so I am just glad to start the race really,” Porte, 33 said.
“The climb wasn’t much to worry about either. I didn’t feel great today but I knew that I wasn’t coming into the race in my best form.”
He said his Tour de France was bitterly disappointing with his mind firmly looking forward to the UCI World Championships.
“I know I am going to take a bit of a kicking over the first two weeks but I think I should be better in the last week,” he said.
“Mentally, it was hard to get over the crash in July and it wasn’t easy to restart or find my momentum but I have still done some good training.
“I am definitely not as good as I was at the Tour but hopefully by the end, I can be in good shape. I would love to be able to take a stage win in the final week. It looks really hard on paper and that’s my big motivation.”