Contador a threat until the end, says Australian
Richie Porte has ruled out any complacency setting in after Team Sky re-asserted its control at the Tour de France on Sunday. Race leader Chris Froome burst clear on the slopes of Mont Ventoux to become just the second race leader in history to win on the climb while in yellow. Froome now leads the race by 4:14 from Bauke Mollema, with Alberto Contador now trailing at 4:25.
Although Froome handed out most of the punishment to his rivals, it was the Sky team as a whole which effectively set him up for the victory.
Porte set a relentless pace on the slopes of the climb, and at one point only Froome and Porte's ex-teammate Alberto Contador could follow in his wake.
"People say I had a bad day last Sunday, but in reality Movistar took it up, then I had to ride on the first climb and then in the valley. It wasn't a bad day it was just that I got worked over tactically by two of the strongest teams in the race," Porte told Cyclingnews.
"It's good to see that I have good climbing form today and that Froome could finish it off, but I don't think you can single one person out. It was the whole team who raced well."
Complacency and a sudden loss of form now appear to be Froome's biggest threats. The Sky leader has shown throughout this year – not just this race – that he is practically unbeatable on a long uphill finish. His now distant rivals will need to expose Sky's weakness at controlling the race on more varied terrain if they are to move back into contention.
"I don't think we're going to fall into that trap of complacency again. Look at what happened last Sunday, you just don't know. The GC is clearly defined now. Mollema is second but Contador is snapping at his heels. It's far from over but Chris is in a very good place. Chris is in good shape and maybe he wants this race more than the other guys but we're not going to be complacent."
Alberto Contador, now in third, and Nario Quintana may be Sky's closet rivals come Paris, and Porte is certainly not ruling out his former teammate.
"It's not over until it's over with him. He's a born racer and he's born to race."
Instant speculation in the digital age
Sky has attracted speculation and a level of suspicion due to its performances over the last 18 months: winning rides in the modern era generally do. A self-appointed diploma from within the Twittersphere means everyone can be an expert on the mathematical conundrums between watts, training data and inclines. And after Froome's win on Ventoux the level of speculation rose once more as frienzed comparisions between Pantani, Armstrong and Mayo on the climb were raised.
However, while most of that can be ignored, and while Sky have always robustly denied doping, their work with Geert Leinders raised questions over the team's ethical stance and even as team principal Dave Brailsford has been quick to accept the responsibility in hiring Leinders, the team has struggled to implement a zero tolerance policy which saw them fire two members of staff in 2012.
However Porte, who has been outspoken about doping during his career, challenged those who wish to see Sky sacrifice all their data and training information in order to satisfy every level of speculation and innuendo.
"There's two sides to that because then you'll have people who don't understand pointing fingers. The other thing is that I rode today up Ventoux without looking at my SRM once," he told Cyclingnews.
"There are so many different avenues that some want to attack us on but just bring it on. At the end of day all we can keep doing is riding our bikes."
"A lot of people have their opinions but are they going to come and apologise in a couple of years time when it comes out that our performances are totally legitimate. I don't think so."
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Tour de France
Tour de France 2013