Richie Porte has had his doubters across his career and while the BMC rider has proved himself as one of the world's best one-week racers, heading into the Tour de France as a co-leader for the first time in his career there was plenty of speculation the Australian wouldn't be up to the task. However, the 31-year-old has hardly put a foot wrong after 17 stages with a flat tyre in the stage 2 finale the only blemish of note thus far.
In the Pyrenees, Porte was front and centre in the GC group and wasn't afraid to attack in order to move up the overall standings.
Into the Alps and Porte arguably put in his best performance of the race, taking back time on his rivals in his bid for a podium position with his late attack on the Finhaut-Emosson climb while the likes of Nario Quintana (Movistar) went backwards.
"It was a good day. I really want to be on the podium, so these are the moves you have to pull," Porte said of the stage as he warmed down by the BMC bus after improving from seventh to sixth. "I spoke with the directors this morning, and they said to me 'just use your head, if you feel like it, attack him [Chris Froome]'. I have to anyhow, the tempo was not so fast and it was a good time to get a gap like that. They chased hard, so that was a good sign.
Porte was part of Alberto Contador's 2011 Giro d'Italia victory, before his title was handed to Michele Scarponi, and has played a vital role in Team Sky's three Tour victories in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Porte's bid for personal success at the Giro came undone with an illegal wheel change and a knee injury but be bounced back to help then teammate Chris Froome seal a second Tour victory last year.
Coming into the 2016 Tour with his new BMC team, there was little pressure on Porte to win the race overall with the acknowledgement 2016 was his first attempt at riding GC for the first time. Thus far, Porte has exceeded expectations and while there are still several tough stages to come he has put to bed any questions over his ability as a three-week racer.
"I felt strong today, and I'm happy with how it all went. It's different for me, being on BMC and riding for myself," Porte added the stage won by Katusha's Ilnur Zakarin. "It's a bit different from the role I had before. I'm enjoying it, taking it day by day. The team put confidence in me, and I am happy with how today went, but there are three hard days before Paris. I'll take it day by day."
Zeb Woodpower says: "Australian fans have known all about Richie Porte and his capabilities since his breakthrough 2010 Giro, wearing the maglia rosa and winning the best young rider classification, and have looked forward to the Tasmanian pursuing his personal ambitions on the biggest stage of all. When Porte was stranded roadside waiting for a new rear tyre in Cherbourg, the late-night audience down under and across the globe saw another episode of bad luck strike. The infamous motor bike incident on Mont Ventoux suggested again that it wouldn't be Porte's Tour...
"However, compared to previous years, there is greater sense of calm surrounding Porte. He hasn't let the racing incidents get the better of him and has proven himself to be one of the strongest climbers in this year's edition of the race. Without the Cherbourg time loss, Porte could be occupying a place on the podium but there has been no mention of hypotheticals in his comments as he's let his legs do the talking. On the final climb to Finhaut-Emosson, Porte was one of the first GC riders to launch an attack, breaking up the Team Sky rhythm and quickly gaining an advantage on the road over his chief rivals. While there are still several big mountain stages to come, Porte has been one of the standout climbers in the battle for the overall and shown no fear to take on the race."
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