Despite crashing out of the past two editions of the Tour de France - both on Stage 9 - Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) claims he gave no thought to any curse looming overhead after the ninth stage of the 106th Tour concluded in Brioude on Bastille Day. Although, the 34-year-old Tasmanian did admit he was pleased to be past the stage upon reflection.
'Yeah, I didn't think too much about it but now that you mention it, it's nice to get here," the two-time Paris-Nice winner told SBS reporter Sophie Smith in the post-stage media scrum. Porte even went so far as to share a comical GIF on his official Twitter account with the added comment of "Stage 9 done #TDF2019" before posting a second tweet giving kudos to his Trek-Segafredo team-mates.
"In the end it was a nice day, always had my @TrekSegafredo boys around me, and gave it a little nudge towards the end to test the legs," Porte tweeted.
Far removed from injuries sustained during his dramatic high-speed crash while descending in the Alps in 2017, or his broken collarbone from a chaotic fall on an early cobbled section in the Roubaix stage last year, Porte looks to be in contention after a solid show of strength on the front on the final climb of Cote de Saint-Just.
The seven-time Tour Down Under stage winner and 2017 champion stretched the legs with French national Romain Bardet in tow. However, Porte's rivals immediately took notice and shut down his effort quickly.
"Bardet is a local here, so if anyone was going to have the knowledge it was probably him," he explained. "But [Team] Ineos sort of snuffed that one out."
With 12 stages to go, including a Monday's Stage 10 before the first of two rest days commencing on Tuesday, Porte is pleased with his form and the amount racing still ahead despite suffering an unexpected loss of more than a minute (+1:18) on Stage 2.
"I'm OK," he told SBS. "It'd be nice to have not lost the time in the team time trial but still a long way to go."