Richie Porte will make his 2021 racing debut with the Australian national team at the Santos Festival Of Cycling in January, the four-day National Road Series (NRS) stage race that has replaced the Tour Down Under due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The field will be made up of domestic teams and bigger-name riders who are home in Australia for the Christmas and New Year period, rather than the WorldTour outfits that feature at the men’s and women’s editions of the Tour Down Under. Mitchelton-Scott are also expected to ride both races.
The men’s and women’s stage races will cover some of the roads used by the Tour Down Under, with stage 3 finishing on Willunga Hill on Saturday, January 23. Both races will then conclude with criteriums around Adelaide’s Victoria Park on Sunday, January 24.
Porte won the Tour Down Under in 2017 and 2020, and has won six times on Willunga Hill. He has moved from Trek-Segafredo to Ineos Grenadiers for 2021, and the British team have given him permission to make his season debut in national colours rather than in Europe.
The 35-year-old is currently in quarantine in Perth after returning home with his young family to Australia. He is expected to head to his home in Tasmania for the holidays and pre-season training before the Santos Festival Of Cycling. It will be the first time Porte has worn the green and gold Australian national colours in a stage race on home roads since riding the Tour Down Under in 2008.
“It’ll be wonderful to see Richie don the Australian colours for the Santos Festival of Cycling. We are all looking forward to the festival after such a fractured year for all sports,” said Simon Jones, the Australian Performance Director.
Porte finished third in the 2020 Tour de France and will ride for Ineos Grenadiers in 2021. He previously rode for Team Sky from 2012 to 2015, and was part of three Tour-winning teams before he left to pursue his own ambitions as a general classification leader.
Having raced for BMC for three years and now Trek-Segafredo the last two seasons, Porte confirmed after this year’s Tour that he will rejoin Ineos Grenadiers on a two-year contract, returning predominantly to a support role.