Contador's absence could be Porte's big chance at Saxo Bank

Riche Porte could be the big winner if Alberto Contador is suspended for the 2011 season. The second-year pro stands to become the Team Saxo Bank-SunGard team captain at the Tour de France this year, if the defending champion is not there.

''I'm not really allowed to say too much because he obviously has the [opportunity to] appeal … but it's a pretty big opportunity, isn't it?'' Porte told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''It's sad to see it happen because he is a good guy … But for me personally … This time last year, I was at the bottom of the pile and now I have one of the best teams where I could potentially be the leader for the biggest race in the world.

''I'm not overjoyed by it. It's not a nice time for our team, even though he wasn't with the team when it happened. But it's a massive opportunity for me.''

Contador faces a suspension for his positive doping control for Clenbuterol, from last year's Tour de France. Porte, who has not yet ridden the Tour, finished seventh overall in the Giro d'Italia in 2010 as a neo-pro., wearing the leader's jersey for three stages.

The 25-year-old had been scheduled to ride the Tour this year anyway, either as back-up to Contador or as a helper. Moving up to the captain's role seems an easy change to him.

''It doesn't really change my path,'' he said. ''I was always going [to the Tour as ] the second guy … ride my race to the point where I had to help Alberto. I always had a bit of a free card for the Tour … I have a lot of improvement and I mean I am improving day by day.''

But Porte doesn't expect to win the Tour this year. ''I have a couple of years really before I can put my hand up as an [overall] contender. But that's what I want to do. That's what I am training hard to do. I have a good team behind me and now I am going to have possibly better guys.''

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