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Despite experiencing bad luck - once again - in the Tour, the Australian rider leaves little room for doubt about his ability to prevail in a three week race.

Photo: A.S.O.




15.07.2016 @ 07:33 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

While Richie Porte’s physical capacity to win a grand tour has never been called into question, his mental ability has often been seen as an obstacle on his path to grand tour glory.


“With Richie it's mental, it's not physical,” Team Sky boss David Brailsford acknowledged, having worked closely with Porte as the Aussie transferred to BMC.


Before completing his move to BMC to have a crack at the Tour title himself, Porte aided Team Sky to three Tour de France titles during what Cadel Evans labelled “a good apprenticeship”.


Critics have pointed to Porte’s history as a very loyal domestique to Sky’s Chris Froome as a potential stumbling block and have also questioned the practicability of the dual race governance with team-mate Tejay van Garderen.


“I think it sits really well with Tejay and him that they’re in a position like this because I don’t think they’re characters that really want to be, ‘I’m the No.1 man and everyone is here to work for me,’” BMC ambassador and 2011 Tour de France winner Evans told SBS. They’d rather have someone to ride alongside with and that’s going to work really well for both of them.”


Assuming role as leader

At BMC, Porte has had to bridge the considerable gap from his earlier position as a domestique to grand tour challenger while simultaneously carrying all the additional commitments and pressures on his shoulders.


“Richie was a big part of Team Sky and their success in the last couple of years in the Tour de France,” BMC sporting manager Allan Peiper told the Australian media. “Coming over now to a different environment - he [was] basically the only new rider we had this year - it’s like being the new kid on the block. Then fitting into a new group with new equipment, a new way of working, of course those are important things. But at the same time, you know, riders quickly find out where their priorities lie. Richie had a couple of those opportunities in the Dauphine where he clearly [saw] that he is not on the [same] team with Froomey anymore and he won’t get any gifts from them. I think it’s really clear for him now.” 


Brailsford’s assessment of Porte’s mental toughness and how it might affect his performance was not entirely lost on Peiper.


“I’d say it’s a big factor with Richie, yes. Whether that’s a defining factor of if he can win a Grand Tour or not that’s another thing. But don’t forget we’ve only really known Richie for a little more than six months so we don’t have a lot of experience to fall back on there.”


So far, though, Porte has performed admirably in this year's Tour despite being dogged by bad luck once again. Before yesterday’s chaotic stage 12 to Mont Ventoux, Porte trailed Froome by two minutes and 22 seconds, a deficit that was largely due to an untimely mechanical he suffered on stage two. On yesterday's stage, Porte looked set to improve his overall standing as he joined Froome as the Brit attacked close to the finish line. The duou was joined by Trek-Segafredo's Bauke Mollema and the trio worked well together before idiotic spectators brought a motorbike to a standstill, causing Porte to plough straight into the vehicle. At this point, GC contenders like Quintana (Movistar) and Aru (Astana) found themselves in arrears but were able to overtake the trio amidst the mayhem. Later, though, the results of the chaotic stage was altered bya commissaire panel from the UCI, meaning that Porte currently sits in 11th place on GC.



Following his bad luck on stage two, Porte had then ‘supposed’ his general classification campaign was over and started talking about a stage win. However, after climbing with the best through the Pyrenees last week he appears to have rediscovered total conviction.

Speaking on the first rest day of the Tour on Monday, Porte referred to the podium in Paris and where he could gain seconds in the two time trials and upcoming mountains.


“Richie is in a different environment now because he is the leader of the team. It’s a responsibility he hasn’t had before and we’ve put things in place to be able to support him and anything he is going through,” Peiper said. “Those are two elements that haven’t been there before and hopefully it will pay off.”


Today's individual time trial will give Porte a chance to improve his GC standing and possibly allow him to move closer to the podium prior to next week's testing stages in the Alps.




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