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Richie Porte (Saxo Bank)
TT beckons for Tasmanian after a tough fifth stage
Richie Porte has foregone his hopes of winning Paris-Nice after he was dropped 500 metres before the top of the col de la Mûre with nine kilometres remaining in stage five but he still rates his experience in the "race to the sun" as a positive one.
"I'm disappointed because my team-mates have done a great job for me but I was left with no legs 500 metres before the top," Porte told Cyclingnews.
"It's frustrating to get dropped so close to the end of the difficult part of the race and to have a gap to the first group. But I want to stay positive. I move on. Compared to how I was riding at Paris-Nice one year ago, it's pretty exciting to be in contention this year," he added.
"Richie's speed and strength and the form is there," said Saxo Bank-Sungard directeur sportif Bradley McGee. "We're disappointed but we also have to be realistic. There are older guys who know how to look after themselves better for now."
Porte now lays in 26th position, 1:46 down on race leader Andreas Klöden of RadioShack. "There are many guys in front of me on who I can take time tomorrow," Porte said. "With the time trial, I hope to turn the tables. I probably can't win the time trial but I'll have a good shot at it. My time trialling has improved. I'm quietly confident to have a good TT but to win it is a pretty big call."
Porte was fourth at the world championship in the time trial in Geelong, Australia, last year. He finished just seven seconds down on bronze medallist Tony Martin who had a mechanical incident. "Tony is in super form here now," Porte admitted. "He was the most impressive today in the climb with Tejay [Van Garderen]. They controlled the race. And there is a climb on the course of the time trial as well, so I think Tony has a good chance to win it."