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Richie Porte (Saxo Bank)
Giro d'Italia's best young rider keeps season goals steady
Saxo Bank-Sungard star Richie Porte believes that regardless of the outcome of the Alberto Contador doping case, his season's goals won't change significantly despite a possible change of role at the Tour de France to team captain.
The Spaniard has been notified he'll face a one-year ban resulting from a positive test for Clenbuterol at last year's Tour de France. He tested positive whilst riding for Astana but made the switch to Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank-Sungard squad during the off-season and last Friday vowed to appeal the decision during a press conference.
"It does mix things up a bit... But Alberto doesn't race a hell of a lot anyway. I look at my race program and it's exciting. There's Paris-Nice and [Tour de] Romandie and the Tour de Suisse. Also, my girlfriend's coming to Monaco to live, which is cool," Porte told Cyclingnews.
"Regardless, Alberto's case is still up for appeal - other than the Tour, it doesn't make a big difference for me. The Tour's going to be hard to perform at on my first go; I've got Romandie and Suisse and they're probably more the races that I'm going to do well in, in the immediate future anyway."
Porte says that spending another year under the tutelage of Riis in major tours will be good for his career, the experienced Dane having negotiated with his Australian charge to remain with the squad and take on a solid racing program for 2011.
"Of course it's a lot of pressure [at the Tour]; I'm a second-year pro, we can't lose sight of that. If anyone puts themselves in my shoes to ride with Saxo Bank-Sungard and it's such a good team... the thing is, Bjarne knows how to win big bike tours, which I'm not going to be able to do right now. But I'm going to get a man like him behind me and what a way to learn, I guess," he said.
As for the situation at the end of 2010, when Porte was rumoured to be making a big-money move to Team Sky, the Australian says that it hasn't had a negative impact on the relationship between himself and team manager.
"Bjarne's professional - there wasn't a whole lot of truth to those rumours. It's not just cycling, but life in general, that people come and go. I have a year to run with Saxo Bank and I'm really happy there," explained Porte.
"And in some ways it's a lot happier team than it was last year. There are still guys like Nicki Sorensen and Chris Anker [Sorensen], with tonnes of experience behind them - hanging out with guys like that means I'm going to get better as a bike rider.
"For me, Bjarne makes stars... And he prides himself on doing that. With me, he's come out in the media after the Giro and said that. He's a great motivator and I've had him in the car during time trials and he's an extra little percentage. I enjoy it."