Porte to work more closely with Riis

One of the revelations of the 2010 season, Saxo Bank’s Richie Porte has revealed that he is set to work much more closely with team manager Bjarne Riis in 2011 with his focus very much on contending in grand tours. Seventh and best young rider at the Giro d’Italia, his grand tour debut, Porte does not yet know his program for next season, but has indicated that it could include a debut at the Tour de France.

Speaking to Cyclingnews from his home in Monaco, Porte said it will be interesting to see how Riis’s team performs after the departure of the Schleck brothers, Fabian Cancellara and several other key riders. “One thing that is clear is that this is going to be a very different team next year to the one I joined,” said Porte, who joined Saxo at the start of 2010.

“But I’m sure that Bjarne will still get the results that he always has. I have already sat down and had a chat with him and I know that I am going to be working a lot more closely with him next season.”

Porte’s program, and that of every one of his teammates, will of course depend on the situation involving new team leader Alberto Contador. If the Spaniard is banned, the Australian’s program is likely to change radically. “If Contador does not come then I will do the Tour, but with no pressure on, purely as a learning experience,” Porte explained. “But we’ll have to see what happens with Alberto.”

Although the Tour is definitely a goal for Porte, he said he would also like to gain more experience of the Classics. “I know my strength is stage races, but I’d also love to do well in some of the Classics. Amstel Gold may well suit me, but the one one-day race I’d really love to win is San Sebastian. I reckon it’s a really cool race, a special race because of the great course, and it’s really hooked me in. I also think I can do well in some of the shorter stage races such as the Tour of Romandy,” said the Australian of the race where he recorded a breakthrough time trial win immediately before his stellar ride at the Giro.

Before all that, Porte said he is looking forward to spending a few weeks at home in Tasmania after Saxo Bank’s first pre-season gathering at the end of this month. He is due to return to Europe in the new year for the team’s training camp in Spain, when his plans for what looks set to be an exciting year for the hugely promising Australian will start to take shape.

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