Richie Porte has conceded that he is not an overall contender for the Santos Tour Down Under and instead will ride in support for the Team Saxo Bank-SunGard sprinters. He is also looking forward to the duel between Andre Greipel of Omega Pharma-Lotto and his former teammate Mark Cavendish of HTC-Highroad.
“I'm going to help the sprinters,” the Australian told Procycling.no. “We have the Haedo brothers and Baden Cooke. I think we may see Baden come back to winning form.”
The 25-year-old from Tasmania had a highly successful debut season in 2010, wearing the maglia rosa for three stages at the Giro d'Italia. This will be his first Tour Down Under as a professional. He rode as an amateur with the Australian national team in 2008, finishing ninth overall.
He does not expect to do nearly as well this year.
“My form is not very good at the moment,” he said. “My goals will come later in the season. I'm here to enjoy it, to ride in good weather.”
The Tour Down Under will be Lance Armstrong's last race outside of the US, but Porte doesn't see him as the largest drawing card this year. “You have the Lance factor, but personally I'm looking forward to the sprint brawl between Cav and Greipel,” he said. “I think the duel is fantastic for the race.”
Greipel has won the Tour Down Under twice, taking eight stages along the way. He and Cavendish had a tense relationship at HTC, with the German leaving for Omega Pharma-Lotto. The Tour Down Under will be the first time they clash as rivals in a sprint. It is Cavendish's first appearance at the Tour Down Under.