Australian looks to lead Sky in Italian grand tour
Richie Porte (Team Sky) has confirmed that he will take aim at the maglia rosa and the overall title at the Giro d’Italia next year. The Australian, who won Paris-Nice earlier this year before helping Chris Froome win the Tour, believes he is now ready to lead a team in a grand tour. The Giro was Porte's breakthrough race, as he led the event for several days in 2010 before finishing 7th overall and picking up the white jersey.
“It is definitely planned but we’ve only just finished the Tour so I’ve not looked into it too much. It would be nice to have a goal like that for next year and take on a little bit more responsibility for myself,” he told Cyclingnews from his base in France.
“I am ready. Winning something like Paris-Nice, which I know is eight days rather than three weeks, it’s essentially the same goal. You try and stay out of trouble and I think this season I’ve shown that I can do well for myself if I’m given the opportunities. It is a big goal.”
Since the Tour, Porte has competed in the criterium circuit in Belgium and Holland but this week he will head to the United States for a stint of racing that includes the US Pro Challenge and then the two Canadian WorldTour one day races. Unlike last year, the Tasmanian will forgo the Vuelta.
“Last year I did the Tour and then went straight into the Vuelta but I’m happy not to be going back to back this year, as last year it was too much going back-to-back with grand tours. The Vuelta is a great race but on paper this year it also looks like one of the hardest three week races you can do,” he said.
“I’ll do Colorado, and I’ll head there this week. I’m looking forward to it because it will be my first time in the US. Then I’ll head to Canada for those two one-day races and I’m looking forward to them as well. I don’t have any pressure on me for those races. In between Colorado and Canada I’ll stay out there and have a bit of a training camp and then try and be good for the Worlds road race and hopefully the time trial. I spoke to Bradley McGee about it the other day and I’m motivated to finish the season strongly. Hopefully with that I’ll have some form for the Italian races at the end of the season too.”
Now home from the pressures of the Tour de France, and the circus of the criterium circuit, Porte has had time to reflect on the team’s win. While Froome dominated the overall standings Sky faced an intense level of scrutiny surrounding the topic of doping.
The team brought journalist David Walsh into the frame at the start of the year and the author of Seven Deadly Sins was embedded with the team all the way to Paris. He concluded that he believed that the team were riding clean, and interviewed Porte towards the end of the race.
“I just started reading his book. I didn’t know he was so hard core to be honest. As a gift he also gave me Rough Ride. I’m nearly on to that now,” he said.
“He was in the background and that was his role. He was on the bus most morning, then around at dinner but I wouldn’t say he was in your face ever. He was always around but he’s easy to talk to. He didn’t really talk to us that much but he was always there.”
Despite Sky’s attempts to create an air of transparency and openness questions during the Tour remained.
“There’s a certain minority that just don’t get it. Some of the stuff we were faced with at the Tour just wasn’t cricket and it wasn’t fair. At the end of the day we’re just bike riders and we done nothing that makes us deserve being booed out on the road. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I understand that and their reservations, but at the end of the day, what can you do?”
The team were asked to provide power data during the Tour. After initial reservations they released a set of numbers to L’Equipe for analysis. The data only referred to Froome’s climbing ability since the Vuelta in 2011, in which he was second, while the team also stated that their Tour winner had never undergone a VO2 max test in a laboratory.
“The power data, it’s not going to prove everything. The average punter out there doesn’t know how to interpret the data. I’m a pro rider and to be honest I can’t look at my SRM files and understand all that either,” Porte said.
“Whatever you say you’re going to get canned but an SRM is a box on my bike and tells me what power to train at. I don’t really look at it in a race. I read somewhere that Froome was criticised for always reading his SRM but that’s just how he rides, with his head down. I train with the guy everyday and he’s forever just riding into you, but that’s just how he rides."
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