Porte could make Tour of California debut as preparation for Tour de France

Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) could ride the Tour of California for the first time in his career as part of his preparation for the Tour de France. Porte is riding a slimmer race programme this season with the hope of having fresher legs for the Grand Boucle.

Porte told Cyclingnews that he might head stateside this May and hang around for a training camp before returning to Europe.

"We'll see it how it all goes, but I'll probably race California and then stay there for a bit of altitude and then the next big goal is the Dauphine," Porte told Cyclingnews. "That's the race where I need to be going and then the Tour. It's a bit of an unprecedented run. Normally, I hit the Tour with more race days in the legs."

Porte said that he is a bit behind where he'd like to be at this point in the season after falling ill at the start of February, but the Australian is trying to look at the bright side of things. Porte developed bronchitis after finishing the Herald Sun Tour and had to take a week off riding as he tried to recover. It was clear that he was not in top shape as he struggled to match the top guys in the mountains at the recent UAE Tour, where he finished over 17 minutes behind the winner Primoz Roglic.

Having started his season in Australia before heading to the Middle East, Porte had been due to start his European block at Paris-Nice this weekend. However, the team decided to delay it a couple of weeks to give him a chance of recovery and he will now ride the Volta a Catalunya.

"I had a week off the bike pretty much after the Herald Sun Tour because I wasn't very well," Porte told Cyclingnews at the end of the UAE Tour, prior to the decision to skip Paris-Nice. "I'm maybe a bit behind but it doesn’t mean that it's all bad.

"Obviously, I want to get healthy. This time last year, I had the flu so I'm not as far behind as I was this time last year."

Porte had a decent start to the season with second at the Tour Down Under and fifth at the Herald Sun Tour. However, his major goals are not for several months as he focuses on the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France. While some of the GC riders already seemed on-song at the UAE Tour, there is plenty of time for him to build up his strength and form for these two races. Porte is interested to see how his competitors hold their form over that time.

"Obviously, Down Under is one of those things where you want to be good for. The saying used to be that it was too early to peak but now you look at it and guys who aren't racing are doing altitude camps and I think the level here [in the UAE] is really high," explained Porte. "I think other than [Alejandro] Valverde, he's always good, but you look at the rest of the guys and they've come down from altitude ready to go. I think coming into July, it's interesting to see how they can back it up."

The UAE Tour was Porte's fourth race with the Trek-Segafredo team after joining them over the winter from BMC Racing. While the race did not deliver what he wanted in terms of results, it was another chance to meet up with his new teammates as he had not attended the December training camp in Sicily. Three months into his tenure, Porte is pleased with how things are going.

"It's been great. I'm happy that I joined Trek-Segafredo. It's a good team, it was always one of the teams that you looked at and thought I'd like to be there. It's one of the best teams in the peloton, and so far, it's been great to work alongside guys like Kim Andersen, who I started my career with at Saxo Bank and it's been a joy to have the guys like Will [Clarke] and Kiel [Reijnen] around me. I've enjoyed it.

As well as some new teammates, Porte has been working with a new coach in Josu Larrazabal. It is still early doors for the pairing, but he is enjoying working with his new coach.

"To be honest, Josu has been really good," he told Cyclingnews. "He understood what point I'm at in my career. Obviously, what works for you, the training that works. He's been supportive and lets me get on with the riding and the climbs I like. It's all pretty good. It’s nice to come to a team like this. Obviously, there's expectation on you, but it's been pretty low stress."

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