After performing his duties with aplomb on behalf of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome at successive Tours de France, Richie Porte has earned the leadership of the Sky team for the 2014 Giro d’Italia.
Porte’s first brush with the corsa rosa came in 2010, when he had a spell in the pink jersey, finished 7th overall and carried off the white jersey of best young rider. He returned as a rather deluxe domestique for Alberto Contador the following year, but in 2014, his ambitions will be somewhat loftier.
“It’s hard to say you can win it, but to be honest, I didn’t think I could win Paris-Nice either,” Porte told Cyclingnews in a video interview. “It’s going to be hard, I’ve had a little bit of a look at the course.”
The mighty Zoncolan features on the penultimate day of the Giro and Porte is all too aware of the fickle nature of the fearsome pass in the Friuli from his previous outings in 2010 and 2011. The Australian also has some prior knowledge of the Irish start, albeit largely off the bike.
“I think it’s going to be quite interesting to start there, quite a nervous start to the race,” said Porte, who is also pencilled in to ride the Tour de France in support of Chris Froome.
Porte brought the curtain down on 2013 at the Saitama Criterium in Japan in late October, and after a spell at home in Tasmania, he returns to Europe next week for Sky’s first training camp of the new campaign in Mallorca.
At that first gathering of the Sky team, Porte will nail down his build-up to the Giro, and he admitted that if it were entirely up to him, he would kick off his campaign on home roads in January, where Cadel Evans (BMC) is already among the confirmed starters.
“I’d love to start at the Tour Down Under, I haven’t done that race since 2011 and that’s a big goal being Australian,” he said. “I’d like to do well there. Cadel’s there and it would be good to go and challenge yourself against him.”