The Colombian’s honest assessment was that Porte ‘had no contender’ and few would disagree after the BMC Racing rider won both uphill finishes to finish almost a minute ahead of his Orica-Scott rival. However this is January and not July and one can expect many twists and turns before the Tour sets off in Germany on July 1.
Orica-Scott and Chaves are still keeping their cards close to their chest in regards to Chaves’ main goals for the season. With the Colombian, and the Yates brothers, Orica-Scott have three potential Grand Tour podium contenders and the consensus is that they will be split their arsenal rather than target them all on one assault.
Chaves, twice on the podium in Grand Tours, is arguably Orica-Scott’s best chance of success at the Tour de France and his inaugural Tour Down Under appearance was just as much about building his profile in the Australian market as it was about stocking up on sun drenched kilometres. He remains coy on if he will also lead Orica-Scott in July.
“I don’t know if I will go to the Tour de France,’’ he said when meeting the question head on.
“First I will finish the Australian season with the Cadel race, the Sun Tour and then I go back home for the nationals. Then we’ll make the decision on the next races.”
The decision has surely been made, just not announced, but the competition between Chaves and Chris Froome at the Sun Tour will be one of the most keenly watched battles of the early season.
In praise of Porte
For now Chaves and Orica-Scott want to keep their focus on the Australian summer, where they collectively kicked off with a successful Tour Down Under.
“We’re really happy as a team, not just me. We won four stages, the criterium and are second overall. It’s a beautiful start to the season and for me to begin like this is unbelievable,” Chaves said.
“Richie has started really well here. He had two really good performances on the climbs. He’s had no contender so far but racing in Europe is different. The races and the climbs are longer in the big tours. So we’ll see. I’m taking it step by step.”
Asked as to why Porte had dominated this year’s Tour Down Under, Chaves gave another one of his straight answers.
“There’s no secret. He’s trained hard, he’s super skinny and he knows the race. It’s the first time for me. Maybe I’ll try again next year. It’s no secret. You need to train hard, eat less.”