De Jongh: A healthy, upright Richie Porte can reach Tour de France podium

They fleetingly worked together at Team Sky, but Steven de Jongh is looking forward to rekindling a working relationship with Richie Porte at Trek-Segafredo after the Australian penned a two-year deal with the team.

"I'm excited because Richie has shown that he can do well in Grand Tours, but he's never quite been able to get that final result. Hopefully he can get his first big result with us," De Jongh told Cyclingnews at the GP Cycliste de Québec in Canada on Friday.

Porte has been recruited from BMC Racing to lead Trek-Segafredo in 2019 after the team lost Alberto Contador to retirement at the end of 2017. The Australian will lead the line in stage races with Trek-Segafredo stalwart Bauke Mollema.

"There was a list of several GC riders that we looked at and I put my hand up for us to have Richie. That's the feedback I gave, and I'm looking forward to working with him. If he stays healthy and on his bike, he's in the mix for a podium."

Porte has had several chances to impress in Grand Tours – first in his final season at Team Sky and then at BMC Racing, But bad luck, crashes and collective mistakes have cost him dearly. He crashed out of the 2017 and 2018 Tours, and, despite approaching his 34th birthday in January of next year, De Jongh believes that the all-rounder has the chance to make the Tour podium.

"You could see he had potential. He was up there a lot, but he's crashed out a few times. He's shown he has the potential but he still needs to confirm it with a big result. It's a bit of a similar situation to Cadel Evans in the past, when he showed at T-Mobile that he had potential, but had bad luck before winning a Grand Tour in the end."

While the Tour de France will be the main focus for Porte, he will also take aim at several week-long stage races in 2019. This season he won the Tour de Suisse, and is arguably the best pound-for-pound week-long racer in the current peloton.

"He shouldn't give up on being successful at the Tour but that doesn't mean that he can't have other big goals before the Tour," said De Jongh.

"It's too early to call any shots on his programme just yet, but we have a strong team that can support him in the mountains, as well as on other stages."

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