Tasmanian ready to sacrifice himself for Tour favourite
Had it been any other year Richie Porte would have been shattered to miss an Olympic Games, but not this time.
"It would have been nice to go but I've got at least two more Olympic years," he told Cyclingnews. I'd love to have gone to London. Certainly when I talk to Whitey [Professional Men's Road Coordinator Matt White], he's got probably the toughest job in cycling so no stress.
"I'm ready for a good Tour de France. If I had of missed out on the Tour I would have been much more disappointed put it that way."
Such is the talent stock available for the Australian national team, Porte suggests that no one could guarantee a start in the five-man Olympic line-up. And this hasn't been the year where the Team Sky rider was overly keen on surprises. His schedule of six races, alongside team leader Bradley Wiggins, have each formed the careful pathway in the bid for the 32-year-old to become Britain's first-ever winner of the Tour de France.
Compare that to 2011, where Porte as a teammate to Alberto Contador unexpectedly found himself riding the Giro d'Italia in a bid for extra kilometres in the legs and improved morale, and it's clear that he appreciates being a key element of Sky's blueprint for Wiggins. In a word, it's been clinical. Or even Wiggins-like.
"Brad doesn't really say that much but at the same time, he doesn't really waste his words," Porte explained. "He says what he means. He's a different style of rider [compared to Contador]. I guess he's more of a time trialler. You look at the team that's been set up around him and it's mainly time triallers, isn't it?"
Sky Race Coach Bobby Julich and Head of Performance Support Tim Kerrison have been working with the team's Tour squad for much the last six months. It's been intense, but the aim has been to mould a team that rides the same tempo on the climbs. You need to look no further than Sky's performance on the Joux Plane during the Dauphiné to have seen the result. It was an exercise in the power of numbers.
"It's not really set in stone but we do have a little bit of a pecking order," Porte told Cyclingnews. "Usually on a climb like that it's going to come down to Mick [Rogers] or [Chris] Froome or myself to sacrifice [ourselves]. On the Joux Plane we were lucky; no one really had to sacrifice their GC position."
Given that dominant display, one is left wondering if there is an additional pressure on Wiggins' teammates to post a top 10 general classification result at the Tour.
"It's handy to have three other guys in the top 10 like what we had in the Dauphine but the goal is always to support Bradley," Porte confirmed. "I don't think it will be any different in the Tour.
"On the road things will change, but if we don't give 100 per cent to Brad then it's not quite right you know?"
By the same token, the team also has certain responsibilities when it comes to sprinter and defending points classification winner, Mark Cavendish. So whose job is it to chase down a break on the days for the Tour's speedsters? According to Porte, that while he is there purely for Wiggins, it won't always be the case where the team needs to work for Cavendish.
For Porte, there's no doubt. He is exactly where he wants to be.
"I've probably had a better season sacrificing [myself] for Brad," he told Cyclingnews. "When you have a specific job, you just go in and do that. I don't think that my time's yet anyhow. I think in a few years, I can go there and actually ride a good GC but for the moment, I'm enjoying riding with Brad and Mick and those guys and learning with them."
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