• Richie Porte being interviewed at the Criterium du Dauphine. He's proving to be a little cagier at the Tour. (Getty)Source: Getty
It may sound like the same old cliches are being trotted out when riders are interviewed post-stage, but Jane Aubrey says there's plenty that can be drawn from what's left unsaid.
By
Jane Aubrey

3 Jul 2017 - 8:01 AM  UPDATED 3 Jul 2017 - 8:09 AM

The logistical challenges that come with an individual time trial meant that Richie Porte (BMC) had disappeared from media view by the time his major GC rival Chris Froome (Team Sky) crossed the finish line in Dusseldorf.

While cyclists are typically more open pre-event, once something as big as the Tour de France and the circus that goes with it gets underway, words are treated with more caution. The team press officer hovers, wary. The media just centimetres from your own face ready to catch every last morsel of your experience that your willing to regurgitate. And there’s no greater spotlight than the Tour.

Some athletes are better than others. There are those athletes whose interviews you need to scour with the fine-toothed comb for something that’s useful, so robotic in their response. Others are reliable in the plethora of gems they deliver no matter the time and place. As a journalist, you know who they are and you adjust your interview in order to navigate the situation at hand.

It’s easy to be frustrated watching and reading interviews with athletes when they appear to offer only the obvious.

"It’s a three-week race…"

"One day at a time…"

"I’ll give it 100 per cent…"

More often than not, ignoring the moments when a cyclist has just stepped off a bike, or a footballer off the field, they’re just not willing to let you, sportsfan via the media, into their bubble. And that was exactly what Richie Porte did on Sunday morning when talking with Cycling Central’s Sophie Smith.

There can be little doubt that Porte will have winced a little when Froome powered over the finish line and the Australian did his calculations. Porte, now 32, has been around long enough to know how this plays out. Porte is his own man and has always delivered the choice quotes when required to the right journalists, the ones he knows he can trust. However, there may have even been a gentle reminder from the chief communications officer of what the media was likely to pepper him with before he reached the Stage 2 start.

Porte’s answers gave very little away.

“… obviously it’s not good to give time away like that to Froome but I’m thereabouts with the rest of the GC guys so it wasn’t a terrible day.”

The perfect middle ground answer.

What do you make of the deficit, Smith prodded.

“The race has only just begun. It shows that Sky obviously are going to have to take the pressure now,” Porte replied. “I think from Stage 5 onwards they’re going to have to really control things.”

Depending on the level of experience you have following professional cycling, this is either obvious or clickbait. Stage 5 will conclude with the 5.9km climb to La Planche des Belles Filles and the yellow jersey likely to change hands.

Asked how he was feeling, Porte was never going to say he would have rather stayed in bed.

“I feel good,” he said. “It’s another stressful day but we’ve got a good bunch of guys to get me through and we’ll take it day by day.”

Textbook stuff. And it wouldn’t have been any different had the deficit to Froome been less, or if like Movistar, BMC was down a man other than Porte acknowledging that it happened.

The curtains have been drawn. There won’t be much to see here. Speak again in a few days.

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