Team can come back stronger
On all fronts, this was a Tour de France to forget for Team Sky. Their leader Chris Froome and his wing-man Richie Porte both failed to make an impression on the overall with the defending champion crashing out and the Australian faltering through illness in the second week.
While the backroom staff and coaches begin to analyse and pull apart the squad's performance, Porte can think of one thing and one thing only as the race heads to Paris: a break from racing before he recharges his batteries.
At the finish of the individual time trial in Périgueux - in which Porte finished 72nd - the Australian expressed his relief.
"I'm just glad that it's over now. If you're at 100 per cent it's hard enough but if you're a little bit off your game, which I was, then you've got no chance. We got an absolute kicking, I did especially, but I think I just need to have a break and then I can come back stronger next year," he told Cyclingnews.
"It's been agony since stage 13 but I'm happy it's over and done with. Obviously it didn't go our way this year but that's life."
After Froome crashed out on stage 5, Porte assumed the role of team leader at Sky. By the first rest day he lay in second overall and was Vincenzo Nibali's closet rival. However on the road to Chamrousse on stage 13, he lost close to nine minutes and since then the Tour de France objective has centred around survival.
"We've had two pretty good years at it and maybe it's good for cycling that Nibali has won but we'll be back next year with Chris and hopefully we'll have a bit more luck next year," he said.
Porte has been dogged by illness throughout the season and by his own admission had lacked consistency. One strong rider has been followed by a disappointment, while the Australian also suffered with a positional problem on his bike earlier in the year.
"I don't think we've had much luck this year," he said.
"I wouldn't say that we could see this coming but in most of the races we've been to we've not been so lucky. Going forward it's a big motivating factor now as we won't come to the Tour as favourites, and we'll be the underdogs a bit more."
"I wasn't exactly lucky either. I got quite sick. People forget that but I know where I am. I got through the hardest part for me with the cobbles and the cross-winds and I did that in second place. Where it was suited to me in the Alps and the Pyrenees that's where I lost it."
A break from racing will give Porte the chance to assess his season before setting new goals. While Sky juggle their Vuelta line up Porte will avoid another grand tour with the possibility of a Tour of Britain ride followed by the Worlds.
"Now is probably the worst time to think about anything other than having a break. I need to take some time off and then I'll start to focus on the rest of the year. A break will do me good."
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