Richie Porte will lead Team Sky at the Tour of Beijing, but after a long season is well aware that challenging for the overall result may be difficult.
Porte has been racing since early spring and took overall victory at Paris-Nice in March before finishing second behind teammate Chris Froome at the Criterium International. The pair raced almost identical racing programmes throughout the season, culminating in the Tour de France in which Froome led Team Sky to their second successive overall title.
Porte recently competed in the World Championships in Florence but found himself off the pace in the time trial before being one of the majority who abandoned the rain-soaked road race. However he was part of Team Sky's squad than won the bronze medal in the team time trial.
“The team’s got pressure on me but it’s been a long season,” Porte said. “I’m pretty honest with where I am with them but we’ll see what happens. I’ve heard that the climb’s not terribly hard so if that’s the case… For the end of season I don’t think that my shape’s too bad. I’ll take it as it comes.”
Joining Porte will be countryman Mathew Hayman. The veteran will be riding in his final WorldTour event for Team Sky having signed a contract with Orica-GreenEdge for 2014.
Austrian, Bernhard Eisel, also makes the trip to China after being part of Team Sky’s winning ride at the Tour of Britain last month. David Lopez also formed part of the same team and, like Eisel, heads to Beijing.
“Lopez is in quite good form,” said Porte. “Bernie and Hayman are always in good condition. Josh Edmondson, our young neo-pro – to be honest he’s probably the most underrated neo-pro this year. He’s been absolutely brilliant. In the future he’s going to be a big rider.”