Richie Porte: I have a point to prove in Paris-Nice mountains

The pressure of riding for the yellow jersey may have disappeared, but Richie Porte (BMC Racing) hasn't given up hope of rescuing a result from Paris-Nice and finishing with a stage win to his name.

Porte lost almost 15 minutes on stage 2 of the race as crosswinds and heavy rain battered the peloton. The significant time loss ended all his hopes of winning the race for the third time, but the Tour Down Under winner is relishing the chance to take home something positive from his 2017 European debut when the race dips into the mountains on stage 6.

"There's no pressure on me, but yes, I do have a little point to prove," he told Cyclingnews on Thursday.

"I also owe it to my team who have been really good here. It's just to have won this race twice and then to come back and have it bite you so hard, it's tough. It's one of the hardest races on the calendar.

"Of course I'd like to win a stage and the best way to do that is to hit them somewhere. Last year Alberto [ed Contador] hit them on the Col de Peille, which comes on stage 8, and I think that might have been a bit too far out. I'm not a danger for GC, so hopefully they can let me go away. Whether they do or not is another thing."

On Wednesday's 14.5 kilometre test to the summit of Mont Brouilly, the BMC climber rallied with a top-ten placing. He took the opening sectors without risk but had the fastest time on the climb. Tenth place at the finish was an indication of more in the tank, and with three difficult days to come before the race ends close to his European home in Monaco, Porte is looking to go on the attack.

"In the time trial there was no chance to get traction," he told Cyclingnews.

"I was fast on the climb but I've not done a time trial since last year's Tour de France and we've changed bikes. It was a nice hit-out and after the disaster of Monday I'm getting a bit of morale back, and I'm ready for the last few days.

"On Monday think that I maybe had too much on in the way of clothing. I was in that front split and then obviously you don't win this race twice if you can't ride in those crosswinds. It was one of those things, and at one stage I was off the road as well. It will be one of those days that many people who were here will talk about for years to come."

Now that he's out of the overall reckoning, Porte can analyse the contenders with more freedom. Julian Alaphilippe has ticked off every box so far and looks on course to become France's first homegrown winner of the race since Laurent Jalabert in 1997. The QuickStep Floors rider has a 33 seconds buffer on Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and a flurry of threatening rivals spread up to two minutes down.

"I think that Alaphilippe is so strong, so too is Dan Martin," Porte said, pointing to QuickStep's impressive start to the race.

"However, it's not over and the next few days are a different sort of hard to the crosswind stages. Julian is obviously flying and he would be a very deserving winner."

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Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.