With his big season goals in July rather than May like in 2015, defending Volta a Catalunya champion Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) says rather than hitting his top form now, he is playing the long game and looking towards the summer for major results.
“My goals, to be honest, are to finish as high up the GC as I can but I’m not in the form I was this time last year,” Porte told Cyclingnews before stage 2.
“It’s a little bit more modest start to the year, but I’m happy with how things are and the legs feel good.
“There’s obviously some big favourites here, so it’s nice to fly under the radar.”
That said, Porte got the season off to a bang with a second place overall in the Santos Tour Down Under. The Australian then turned in a more than respectable third place in Paris-Nice, sealed when he broke away with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) on the Col d’Eze in the dramatic finale to the race. That was despite going down with a cold in the last part of the race.
Porte was leading the WorldTour rankings, too, as he was this time last year, but following Milan-San Remo he surrendered the lead to BMC Racing team-mate Greg van Avermaet.
“Everything’s pretty good, I was a little bit sick in the last two days of Paris-Nice and it sort of flared up last week,” Porte, 45th overall after stage 2 in the same time as all the top favourites, said. “It’s just coming out of a week of sickness, you don’t quite know where you’re at.”
Porte in any case is sharing the burden of leadership in Catalunya with team-mate Tejay Van Garderen, who will be closely watched by the other favourites in Wednesday’s stage to La Molina, given the American won there last year. But on such a tough Pyrenean stage, all of the top favourites will want to be in the thick of the action, too - and Porte will aim to be amongst them.