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Riche Porte (Sky)
Tasmanian hopes his teammates can fly the Team Sky flag in the Pyrenees
Team Sky's Richie Porte has vowed he will continue to fight on at the Tour de France despite losing more than 13 minutes in the overall classification during the two Alpine stages; stage 13 to Chamrousse and stage 14 to Risoul.
The Tasmanian was lying second overall and seemed set to fight for a podium place behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali. He suffered in the heat on Friday, however, and began a course on antibiotics after picking up some kind of virus. He is now 15th overall at 16:03, leaving Team Sky without an overall contender after winning the Tour in 2012 and 2013.
Porte sounded weak and was clearly disappointed that his hopes of doing well had disappeared but true to character, he promised to fight on before stage 15 from Tallard to Nimes.
"The last week hasn't been great and in the last few days I've started a course of antibiotics. It's not really ideal but the race goes on. I'm trying to get through today and into the rest day," he said at the start.
Porte's lowest goal is to reach Paris next Sunday, with a hope of regaining full health before the big mountain stages in the Pyrenees.
"Not to make excuses but my health hasn't been great. At the end of the day not all is lost. The Pyrenees stages are an opportunity and I hope to get through there and have another go," he said.
"It's the Tour de France, the goal is to get to Paris. Even yesterday (Saturday) when I wasn't great, I still made it in before the gruppetto, so it's realistic to try and finish the race."
Team Sky has been decapitated twice in this year's Tour, with team leader Chris Froome crashing out on stage five and then Porte –designated as his replacement and Team Sky's Plan B, seeing his ambitions ended in the Alps.
Team manager Dave Brailsford has again moved quickly to refocus his riders and change the team's strategy, with Geraint Thomas and Mikel Nieve going on the attack on Saturday to try and win the stage. They were pulled back due to the complex race strategies of rival teams and the battle for the overall classification but it was a clear sign of a fight back.
"The goals have changed now and it as good to see G (Geraint Thomas) and Frosty (Nieve) out there flying the Sky flag. I think those guys can do the same job in the last three mountain stages," Porte suggested.