Third on the line at Port Ainé and now third overall of the Volta a Catalunya, Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) described himself as more than satisfied with how he and team-mate Tejay van Garderen jointly handled the stage’s tumultuous finale.
Van Garderen and Porte will be racing as joint contenders in the Tour de France this summer and Catalunya was the first time the American and Australian have ridden in the same event as team-mates. Porte argued that he and van Garderen - the American attacking first, then Porte making his own move closer to the line - had demonstrated in the Volta a Catalunya’s toughest stage that from the get-go they were co-ordinating well as a team.
“It was perfect, our team in the final were great. Tejay and I showed we could work together, so it’s a good day,” Porte, third on the stage, and third overall, said afterwards.
Porte did not feel, either, that it was only van Garderen that had turned in a standout performance for BMC Racing on the final climb, with Samuel Sanchez working hard to set things up for the final round of attacks. “[He] did a fantastic job there. He took us up to around three ks to go or around there, and then Tejay to go like that, he set it up absolutely fantastically.”
Although Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador went clear the latest, as Porte pointed out, van Garderen had launched an attack which even Quintana credited as the most dangerous of the final climb. “I think Tejay was the most aggressive, he was the first one to fire off the attacks, so full credit to him.”
Now third at 17 seconds, Porte, who won the race outright in 2015, argued that there was still some margin in the race to challenge Quintana. “It’s not over yet, as we saw last year, when we least expect it, there were cross-winds on stages. It’s not over til Sunday.”
Eitther way, Porte, having taken third in Paris-Nice despite sickness two weeks ago, is satisfied that he continues to make progress back to full race condition. “I didn’t have a great week last week, I was sick but the majority of the guys were too. So it’s good to set down a marker of where we’re at.”