Porte encouraged by Ruta del Sol podium place

Australian happy with Giro d'Italia preparation

Having started his 2014 season in Australia with third place in the national road championships, Richie Porte (Sky) has continued his good start to the season with second overall at the Ruta del Sol behind Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Team Sky had looked to seize the initiative on the final stage which was won by Moreno Hofland (Belkin) and set Porte up for the overall victory but a fast finish laid to rest any plans the Tasmanian had to improve his gc position.

The final margin between Porte and Valverde was 31 seconds with Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) two seconds behind Porte in third place.

"The whole week the guys have been absolutely incredible," Porte told TeamSky.com. "There's a lot of horsepower in the team. We've had guys like Xabi Zandio on the front all day yesterday. Geraint (Thomas) and Pete (Kennaugh) doing a brilliant job.

"Everybody was fantastic. It was a shame we couldn't win a stage between us but it was good that it was such a hard race and everyone is going to come out of it stronger than when they went in."

Having won the queen stage at the Tour Down Under on his way to fourth overall, Porte admitted he is happy with his growing form despite coming up against stiff opposition in the form of Valverde.

"The uphill finishes suited him down to the ground and hat's off to him he's in great shape. For us it's good to see where we're at. I know where I'm at and I'm nowhere near at 100 percent. So to come away with second this week is a nice indication of what I can do this season."

Vasil Kiryienka crashed hard following a collision with a rock just 17km into the final stage and was praised by Porte for persevering.

"He lost it on a corner attacking at the start," Porte said. "In Kiryienka versus a rock I guess the rock was always going to come off second best. He was quickly back in the peloton. He's a legend."

Porte heads to Paris-Nice next with the aim of defending the race he won overall last year. Paris-Nice starts on March 9.

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