Riche Porte (Saxo Bank-SunGard) believes he can have a strong Tour de France and help Alberto Contador become the first rider to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour in the same season since Marco Pantani in 1998.
The 26-year-old Australian had a quiet Giro d’Italia, finishing 81st on GC, but worked for Contador throughout the race, a task he will face again in July. Porte is currently in the French Alps with Contador and several other teammates studying some of the toughest mountain stages in this year’s Tour de France route. They will today complete the stage to L'Alpe d’Huez, which will be Porte’s first ascent of the famous Alpine climb.
“It was a hard Giro and the legs were quite sore afterwards. I got sick again but I’ve recovered now and I’ve been training at altitude. I’m getting stronger and stronger every day and I’ve done everything I can to recover,” Porte told Cyclingnews.
“Today I’ll ride up L'Alpe d’Huez. It’s a really special moment and the first time I’ve done it so I’m really excited.”
A strong Tour is possible
Porte is only in his second season as a professional but burst onto the scene in last year’s Giro with a stunning seventh place on GC and several days in the race leader’s maglia rosa. Despite having already raced one grand tour this year, he isn’t daunted about starting a second one in such quick succession.
“It’s certainly possible to have a strong Tour. I think it’s possible I can do two grand tours. The Giro was brutal and the Tour this year looks hard on paper as well but I have to have confidence in the team’s decision and they’re not going to send me into a race they don’t think I can finish. I’m confident that I’m only going to get stronger.”
“The Tour was the big aim for me, not the Giro, and I only found out I was riding in Italy quite late so I think I’ll actually have a better Tour than Giro.”
“At the Giro I was a little disappointed to start with but I got much better in the third week. Alberto is the best stage racer in the world so at the Tour it will be about looking after him as best as I can. He’s a level above so it’s a pretty exciting time.”
Despite the ongoing saga into Contador's Clenbuterol case, Porte has decided to focus on the job at hand and is confident that Contador can secure the first ‘double’ since Pantani in 1998.
“If there’s anyone that can do it’s Alberto. He’s in great shape and he’s motivated and we can’t wait to get to the race and start,” he said.
The final nine-rider Saxo Bank-SunGard line-up for the Tour de France is expected to be announced before the various European national championships on June 26.