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Custom front end for fast and flowy handling
Richie Porte (Sky) finished off the hard work from his team
Expects Katusha to play a key role on Sunday
Speaking to a small group of journalists, the Paris-Nice winner said that "most of the teams will want to control and ride on the front on Sunday, we're just one of many teams that are going to be going for that."
"Katusha and those sort of teams will take their role, guys like [Joaquím] Rodriguez and [Fleche Wallonne winner] Dani Moreno, those guys are totally suited to these climbs, but Chris Froome and Rigoberto [Urán] are good at that sort of thing too."
Although Bradley Wiggins was also due to be taking part in Liège-Bastogne-Liège for Sky but is not now present, Porte says they won't be lacking "strength in numbers. Realistically we've got five strong guys who would be the outright leader in any other teams." Amongst them will be "Sergio [Henao, second in Fleche Wallonne] is in great form. With guys like that we shoujld be closer to winning or at least be on the podium."
Making his debut in Liège-Bastogne-Liège after a first-time ride in Fleche Wallonne, Porte says he was perhaps "not really prepared for the amount of stress and the fight there was in the bunch at Fleche Wallonne. I'm guessing Liège is going to be much the same. What I've learned is that you don't come here the first time and win it. Usually the seasoned guys wins, guys that know every climb and every turn."
Porte has not done any specific training for La Doyenne's 11 classified climbs, but Sky's Ardennes riders (with the exception of Chris Froome, arriving Saturday) have done a reconnaissance of the LBL climbs, riding the final 80 kilometers on Friday. And as Porte points out, the Vuelta al País Vasco, where he finished second, had a "lot of short sharp climbs and here it's not too different. I didn't have an ideal run-in, I got a bit sick after Pais Vasco but I think 90 percent of the peloton did."
And with his podium finish there in the Pais Vasco and a classy stage win on the toughest day, the road-stage into Beasain held in freezing cold, rainy weather, Porte has more than proved that he should be totally at home on Ardennes-like climbs. This Sunday may well provide a reconfirmation of that.