Richie Porte (BMC) lived the GC rider’s nightmare on Sunday. He flatted his rear wheel while riding at the front around 5km to go. Normally, a flat is just a nuisance and a small waste of energy. But this flat came at the worst possible time.
Porte was outside the 3km GC safety zone. Most of his teammates were already gone, shed by their work for Greg van Avermaet. The road had begun to climb, and wouldn’t top out until the finish line. The change was slow, from the neutral service car rather than his own team car. The whole episode — which would cost him 1’40” by the finish — could hardly have been worse for a man who dreams of yellow.
“It was a disaster but what can you do?” Porte said to a bank of television cameras. “You are sitting second wheel in perfect position… I don’t know what the hell I hit, but next thing the rear tyre went down. It’s a disaster, but I don’t know what you really can do. I mean… I just move on, I suppose.”
“It is kind of like last year in the Giro, but it probably would have been quicker to take the two-minute penalty than the wheel change I got,” explained Porte.
“It’s all far from over but it’s quite a hard one to take. We just have to pretend that it never happened and wait of the mountains to come.”
Co-leader Tejay van Garderen said that the team’s original two-pronged plan remains its best option. “We’re co-leaders. Anything can happen, you know. We saw Contador lost time today, and crashed yesterday. Richie lost time today. Any one of these next 19 days could be my turn for bad luck.”
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