‘He’s put Hadspen on the map’: Porte’s hometown overjoyed by Tour de France finish

After Frank Nott watched Australian cyclist Richie Porte claim third place in the Tour de France, he called other people who’d taught the 35-year-old at the Hagley Farm Primary School in Tasmania’s north.

“They’re delighted to think that little bloke that we knew has come and done so well for himself and for the state and Australia,” he said.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal. I think the sky’s the limit. I think they’ll always remember Richie Porte.”

Porte secured his first podium finish in the famous race with a scorching time trial that leapfrogged him from fourth to third place.

Mr Nott taught Porte when he was in grade five and coached him in primary-school sports teams.

He remembers a small boy with the tenacity to use the Poatina Road, which winds up into Tasmania’s Central Highlands and defeats most ordinary riders, as a training ground.

“I think those training rides up Poatina stood him in very good stead for when he was dropped off the peloton with a puncture and chased them and got back on,” he said.

“No doubt he had a very big motor and a big heart.”

Richie Porte riding his bike up a hill with a photographer behind on a motorcycle.Richie Porte riding his bike up a hill with a photographer behind on a motorcycle.
Richie Porte pushes through the pain on the Tour.(Supplied: Bas Tietema)

Mr Nott has kept in touch with Porte over the years. He said he hadn’t changed much since his school days.

“No doubt some of his tenacity and his grit and performance have come from those early days of daily fitness at Hagley Farm Primary School.”

A field with Richie Porte cut into the crop.A field with Richie Porte cut into the crop.
One farmer was such a fan of Porte, he created this maze at Rupertswood Farm in northern Tasmania in 2018.(Supplied: Rupertswood Farm)

Mr Nott has no doubt Porte’s achievement will inspire others in the small rural community.

“To be only the second Australian to be on the [Tour de France] podium is absolutely fantastic.”

“I’m absolutely proud and thrilled with it.”

Locals thrilled with hometown hero’s achievement

Porte returns often to his hometown of Hadspen, off the Bass Highway that runs between Launceston and Devonport.

Local supermarket owner Graeme Radley first met Porte about 15 years ago when he was a lifeguard at the local swimming pool.

A man in an IGA jacket stands outside the shop.A man in an IGA jacket stands outside the shop.
Graeme Radley has been friends with Porte for many years.(ABC News: Jessica Moran)

He said Porte would frequently join him for bike rides while he visited his parents over Christmas.

“He’s given a lot back to his family and friends, and he’s got a lot of time, and he’s never lost where he’s come from.”

Mr Radley said the whole community was excited about the local “superstar”.

“He used to live just down the road and he’s put Hadspen on the map.”

Podium finish pinnacle of ‘marvellous’ cycling career

Porte has had to call on the tenacity and grit his hometown friends remember during his cycling career.

He started his career on a bike after competing in triathlons.

“He went into the professional cycling ranks very late by traditional standards — he was 25 when he got his first professional contract,” said fellow cyclist and Olympic gold medal winner Scott McGrory.

Cyclist Richie Porte sits on a giant thumb holding his own thumb up.Cyclist Richie Porte sits on a giant thumb holding his own thumb up.
Richie Porte takes a break during a ride at home in Tasmania.(Instagram: Richie Porte)

“He was a long way behind in terms of the skills you need to be competitive at that highest level and it took him a long time to acquire those.”

Mr McGrory said Porte had been chasing a podium finish in the Tour de France for his whole career.

“It’s taken him a long time, but I think this is some kind of vindication for Richie to say, ‘Hey I was good enough, I am good enough and [I] finally cracked it, a podium in Paris.'”

“He’s had a great career, a marvellous cycling career, and it’s been topped off by finishing third at the Tour this year.”