Dave Brailsford has defended Richie Porte’s ability to lead Team Sky in a grand tour after the Australian rider failed to make a sustained impact in this year’s Tour de France. Porte became Sky’s defacto leader after Chris Froome crashed out in the opening week but despite a positive start in the Alps he succumbed to illness and faded in the second and third weeks.
“I think I’ve said before we got here and I wasn’t being disrespectful to anybody but I think I said that in a race like this it’s not often, but it can happen, but it’s not often that somebody switches to plan B and plan B wins,” Brailsford told the press at the start of stage 19.
“It’s normally that plan A runs all the way through without too many scrapes and they win. You don’t see too many plan Bs winning. That’s what we tried to do with Richie.”
Porte’s season has been plagued by illness and a lack of form. He picked up a bug in Tirreno and despite the odd promising day since then has struggled to find consistency. A problem with his bike position compounded his problems but he was backed ahead of the Tour de France as Team Sky’s alternate if Froome failed in his quest to challenge for the overall.
“Sometimes in life sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. This was a case where things didn’t work out and if he had 100 per cent health and it didn’t work out then that would be one scenario but he genuinely got ill which knocked the wind out of his sails, to be honest,” Brailsford added.
Porte was meant to lead Team Sky at the Giro d’Italia this year. However he was forced to miss that opportunity as he struggled to reach top form. When asked if Porte could lead Team Sky in a grand tour in 2015, Brailsford said. “It’s too early to say that, we’ve not finished this race yet.”
Australian journalist Rupert Guinness followed up by asking Brailsford if Porte had the ability to compete for a grand tour leadership role.
“Physically, yes I think there’s no doubt about it. With the right conditions and the right form, then of course.”
That response promoted the question over the mental side of the rider’s game. “
Yeah I think he does have it. He just needs to get into a scenario where he’s on top and he’s fighting from the front. I’d still back him to lead a team in a grand tour.” “
You dust yourself down, you recalibrate, you set yourself new goals and off you go again. Doing that alone is one thing but you’ve got to do it with desire, hunger and a real drive. For us, as in all sports teams, when it doesn’t go your way it really makes you want it more and I think that’s good for the team.”