Australian cycling star Richie Porte remains determined to win the Giro d’Italia, despite the controversial penalty that badly dented his title hopes.
Porte has largely bitten his tongue about the two-minute penalties he and compatriot Simon Clarke received after stage 10.
Clarke received widespread praise for his act of sportsmanship after Porte punctured a tyre inside the last 10km.
Despite Porte leading rival team Sky, the Orica-GreenEDGE rider handed him his front wheel.
But race judges hit the pair with the two-minute penalties for breaching the rule that forbids “non-regulation assistance to a rider of another team”.
Along with the 47 seconds that Porte lost because of the puncture, he has plummeted from third overall to 12th, more than three minutes behind race leader Alberto Contador.
“I have to suck it up and we have to look forward as a team,” Porte said on the team website.
“It has been great to get so much support overnight – that means a lot.
“No one should doubt how much I still want to win this race.
“There are still two weeks to go … there is still a lot of racing ahead, some tough stages and this has really fired the whole team up to try to get the time back.”
The incident also begged the question – where were Porte’s teammates when he punctured?
“The peloton was going super fast to try and catch the breakaway and get ready for a bunch sprint, and I picked up a front wheel puncture as we were going around a roundabout,” he said.
“I’d gone around it on the left but my teammates went around the other side.
“I stopped and by the time the guys had got back to me Simon had already stopped and offered me his wheel.
“It was a spur of the minute thing.”
Porte added he had to watch what he said about the time penalty. ”
You might have had a different answer last night,” he said.
“Stating the obvious – it is frustrating, but there is no point moaning or complaining.
“It was a technical infringement.”
And Porte was full of praise for his friend Clarke.
“It was amazing – really great sportsmanship,” he said.
“For a fellow pro from another team to help out like that – I think it shows cycling at its best.
“The sport has made a lot of pretty bad headlines over the years and this was a pretty special moment.
“Simon is a friend and he showed it yesterday for sure.”