Porte delighted by third-place Tour finish

Australia's Richie Porte looks set to finish third in the Tour de France.
Australia's Richie Porte looks set to finish third in the Tour de France.

An ecstatic Richie Porte said his brilliant time trial ride to all but claim third spot on the penultimate day of Tour de France felt as good as winning the race.

Porte is on course for the best finish by an Australian since Cadel Evans won in 2011 with Sunday's final stage always processional before the race concludes with a sprint finish on the iconic Champs Elysees in Paris.

The Tasmanian started the day 99 seconds behind Miguel Angel Lopez in fourth, but produced the time trial of his life to finish 1.21 seconds behind new yellow jersey holder Pogacar's stunning 55min 55sec to leapfrog the Colombian.

Pogacar pulled off a major upset by stunning compatriot and long-time leader Primoz Roglic, who'd held a 57-second lead in the general classification, in one of the most dramatic days in race's long history.

Porte has endured so much disappointment over the years, including an untimely puncture early in the 2016 Tour that eventually cost him a likely podium finish and also crashed out in 2017 and '18.

But aside from a puncture scare inside the final eight kilometres of the 14th stage last week, where he was forced to jump on teammate Kenny Elissonde's bike to stay in touch with the main group, Porte has enjoyed a largely trouble-free Tour.

"This means so much to me," Porte told ITV Sport.

"I came here without any real pressure. In the lockdown I didn't even think this race was going to happen.

"There's been so many years of disappointment, crashes and whatever and dramas.

"We've had dramas here like in Leon with Kenny's bike the other day with the puncture so to come away with the podium is amazing.

"It's no secret that I will be leaving Trek-Segafredo ... but the way they have got around me this year and supported me has been fantastic.

"I had the world champion as my bodyguard and all of the boys have played their part it's incredible."

Porte's involvement in the delayed running of the race forced him to miss the birth of his daughter Eloise last week in Monaco and he admitted he'd considered missing the race altogether but was persuaded to take part by wife Gemma.

"I missed the birth of my second child but my wife told me to race and said if she saw me sulking at the back of the peloton she would be upset with me," he said.

"So to come here and finish third ... this is sweet.

"This is a photo I will have on the wall When I retire.

"I am over the moon, this feels like a victory for me."

TOP-FIVE AUSTRALIAN FINISHES AT THE TOUR DE FRANCE:

1982 - Phil Anderson, 5th

1985 - Phil Anderson, 5th

2007 - Cadel Evans, 2nd

2008 - Cadel Evans, 2nd

2011 - Cadel Evans, won

2020 - Richie Porte, third

Australian Associated Press