Faculty of Health

Exercise Science students get up close with elite cyclist Richie Porte

University of Tasmania Exercise Science students were given the opportunity to spend time with elite cyclist Richie Porte, when he visited the School of Health Sciences in Launceston.

Porte toured the Exercise Science labs and took part in a Q and A with staff and students chatting about the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, training with some of the most famous names in cycling and what it’s like being one of Australia’s top athletes

Born and raised in Tasmania, but now living in Monaco, Porte revealed how much he enjoyed coming ‘home’ to Launceston – even if only for a few weeks.

As part of his training Porte regularly cycles to Scottsdale and back, several times a week.

Exercise Science Course Coordinator Associate Professor James Fell said the visit was a great opportunity for students.

“Exercise Science students were thrilled to get an insight into Porte’s gruelling training regime…as well as a few selfies with their cycling hero,” he said.

“Students and staff asked Porte a wide range of questions including what it was like competing with some of the biggest names in cycling, what he eats before a big race (porridge) and how he copes with the physical and mental challenges of competing in high-profile sporting events – revealing that mental training is as important as physical training. “

The visit followed Porte’s competition in the weekend’s 2016 University of Tasmania Launceston Cycling Festival, his first competitive race since crashing out of the Rio Olympics in August with a broken shoulder blade.

Exercise Science students were also involved in the festival as volunteers providing marshalling, administrative and logistical support – giving them a taste of what it took to deliver a world class sporting event.

Several students also used the festival as a research opportunity to carry out fatigue testing on competing athletes before and after their events.

Including a series of events circumnavigating the Launceston City Park, the festival was established in 2002 with the vision of creating a world class festival of cycling in Tasmania.

The University was proudly associated with the event again this year, after a successful partnership in 2015.

Head of the University’s School of Health Sciences Professor Nuala Byrne said it was important to recognise the value that regular exercise plays in optimising health and wellbeing for the whole community.

“I am a passionate advocate for encouraging all Tasmanians to increase physical activity levels,” Professor Byrne said.

“Adopting a regular physical activity habit is one of the most valuable investments you can make to your health – no pill can provide the same combined health benefits as being active and improving your physical fitness.”