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Richie Porte (Team Sky)
Australian still due to ride Trentino prior to Giro d'Italia
A report in the Sidney Morning Herald last week said that Porte's possible Giro participation was "under a cloud" after the Tasmanian-born rider suffered from gastroenteritis in Tirreno-Adriatico, abandoning on stage five, then quit the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya mid-way through stage two.
"It has compromised my Giro preparation," Porte told The Sydney Morning Herald, "I'm not sure. I will have to make a decision with David Brailsford and Tim Kerrison."
Cyclingnews spoke to Dario Cioni, set to direct Team Sky at the Giro, before the start of Sunday's stage seven of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya to obtain an update about Porte's situation vis-a-vis the Giro. Porte is due to lead Team Sky for the first time in a Grand Tour at the Giro before going on to play a support role in the Tour de France for Chris Froome.
"As always we will be previewing and reviewing the situation, it's in constant motion, and next week we will sit down as a group, us coaches, to assess where we are. Of course our goal is to keep the rider in the best condition possible," Cioni told Cyclingnews.
Asked to be a little more specific, Cioni said "Abandoning a race is never ideal and for Richie, at Tirreno he showed he was where he needed to be because he rode hard on the first tough mountain stage and got back up to Alberto (Contador - Tinkoff-Saxo, when the Spaniard attacked). He paid for that effort, but only got dropped by Alberto.
"So it was a real pity that he had that illness, I think he would have been with Alberto."
With Porte's underlying form looking good until he hit the gastroenteritis, the cut-off point for a definitive decision on Porte's participation will, Cioni said, "be in about 10 days' time. We'll look at his racing schedule, it's always like that, we have to revise things, but that's normal in bike racing."
For now Porte's program is meant to be - and remains - a training camp on the Teide in the Canaries, then the Giro di Trentino, then the Giro, with the Tour following afterwards.
"It's like a big jigsaw puzzle, we're constantly shifting pieces around," Cioni said. "The Tour is the priority of the season for this team, and then you work backwards and try to work out how you can be best there." And he still sees doing the two Grand Tours for Porte as feasible.
"Don't forget we were going to do that last year with Bradley [Wiggins], it's true that you need a big engine but we are talking about top-level riders. And a lot depends on how you manage the time between the Giro and the Tour. It's not easy, but it can be done."