While Richie Porte impressed in moving into the yellow jersey at Paris-Nice on Friday, the Australian is set to return to a supporting role at Team Sky immediately afterwards, as he rides in the service of Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.
Following his stage victory at Montagne de Lure, Porte is well-positioned to seal final overall victory at Paris-Nice in Sunday’s concluding time trial at the Col d’Èze, but he stressed that success would not alter his status in the team for this season’s Grand Tours. He will line up in support of Wiggins at the Giro d’Italia in May.
“I’m happy to be on this team and ride for Brad and Chris,” Porte said, according to Biciciclismo. “I’ll be ready to step up, not this year but maybe next year. We’ll see what we do in the Giro. I like the Giro, I took the pink jersey as a neo-professional and I have good memories of it.
“When I sat down and talked to Dave Brailsford about coming to Sky, it was clear that it was to help Brad and Chris, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. Sky is shaping the sport, and it’s really not a problem to work for Brad and now for Chris.”
Porte now holds a sizeable 32-second buffer over Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) at the head of the general classification, with Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) in third, 42 seconds back. A strong climber and time triallist, Porte can also rely on some local knowledge of the Col d’Èze, but he warned that the race is far from over.
“I’m not a bad time triallist and Col d’Èze is near where I live [in Monaco – ed.] But there’s still tomorrow [Saturday], that could be a difficult stage. We have a good team and some smart guys on the team. But it’s not over.”
While Porte stands on the verge of overall victory at Paris-Nice, he also recalled the more difficult moments he had endured at the Race to the Sun in the past. “The bad memories are probably coming back to my bus and being told by my directeur sportif that I was too heavy to be a professional rider. That wasn’t nice to hear,” Porte said of his 2011 Paris-Nice. “And then last year, there were crosswinds and crashes when I was in very good shape.”