Tasmanian cyclist Richie Porte said a rare appearance in an early-race breakaway proved he had all but recovered from a bout of illness that hampered his Vuelta a Espana preparation.
The Hadspen 33-year-old missed his team’s pre-race press conference last week due to gastrointestinal issues, which effectively put an end to any hope of taking out his final Grand Tour race in BMC colours.
Having fallen out of general classification contention after stage two, Porte attacked early on the 155.7km sixth stage and built up a three-minute gap on the peloton as part of a three-rider breakaway.
The trio were collected by the peloton 30km from the finish line and Porte eventually finished five and a half minutes behind stage winner Nacer Bouhanni after he and his teammates were held up by a crash which split the peloton in half.
“It was a bit of fun today, something different for me,” Porte said of his breakway effort.
“I am starting to feel a little more myself, back to normal and recovered so it was nice to do something different. I haven’t been in a breakaway for years. It was quite enjoyable.
“I think it was a good way to test myself - the other option would have been to just sit in the bunch and not do much other than in the final when there was crosswinds and a lot of stress.”
BMC sports director Jackson Stewart said Porte would “only grow stronger” from the hitout.
“I think for Richie going in the breakaway was a way to test the legs and get some training if you will,” Stewart said.
“It was maybe also a little better for his head to be out in front and riding rather than just sitting in the bunch.”
Porte sits in 157th spot overall, 46:49 behind Groupama FDJ’s French general classification leader Rudy Molard.
Mitchelton-Scott rider Jack Haig is 3:25 behind the pace in 19th spot and is the best placed of any Australian.