Heading into the second week of racing, Richie Porte (Saxo Bank-SunGard) has echoed Alberto Contador's sentiments regarding Tour de France tactics, telling Cyclingnews that the Schleck brothers must ride aggressively if either of them is to win the race.
The Schlecks both currently sit a minute and half ahead of Porte's team leader but lie a handful of seconds behind Cadel Evans (BMC). With the 42.5km Grenoble time trial on the penultimate stage, the brothers will have to gain significant time on Evans, a stronger rider against the clock, in the mountains.
"The Schlecks have to get rid of Cadel but it's going to be exciting all the way to Paris. There are some really hard stages. We did recon of the Alps and Pyrenees and the Luz-Ardiden stage is really scare and it's going to be every man for himself," Porte told Cyclingnews.
While the Tour has been plagued by numerous crashes, both Leopard and Saxo Bank have avoided problems and done a minimal amount of work on the front of the bunch so far, with BMC, Garmin and now Europcar bossing the racing. The Schlecks, who won't sleep easy despite their buffer over Contador, have questioned the Spaniard's nerves while pushing a line that he must attack in the mountains.
BMC race tactics
The fact that BMC did so much work during the opening stages in a bid to propel Evans into yellow has not gone unnoticed. One rider from a rival team told Cyclingnews that Evans and BMC needed to 'just chill out and stay off the front' while the Australian's rest day press conference was dotted with questions over his team's tactics.
"I guess Cadel wanted the jersey and they went out there and raced for it. He's a smart guy and BMC are a smart team. They know what they have to do and Cadel is incredibly strong. He's peaked three times this season already and he's got it right. Maybe he's going to be the first Australian to win the Tour de France," Porte said.
Porte, riding his first Tour de France admitted to Cyclingnews that his own goal for the race was to support Contador and that the he would not go on the hunt for stage wins. He also gave a glimpse of the Spaniard's leadership qualities.
"There's no personal ambition here for me and it's all for Alberto,” he said.
“It's enjoyable to work for a guy like him. He's appreciative to work for as a leader. He's no dictator but he certainly tells you when you've done a good job and he lets you know what he wants. When the race is finished and we're on the bus he tells us if we've done a good job. He's a good leader."