Robbie McEwen: Ineos has to keep Richie Porte in Giro d’Italia GC contention

'I think that it’s important for them to not only look after Carapaz but to keep Richie Porte on board as a GC contender,' says Australian.

Photo: Getty Images

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According to Robbie McEwen, the Ineos Grenadiers team will be content with its current overall position at the Giro d’Italia after three days of racing. Arguably the strongest team on paper in the race, Ineos has three riders inside the top-15 overall with their pre-race favorite Richard Carapaz 35 seconds off the maglia rosa.

The 2019 Giro d’Italia champion put in a solid but not spectacular ride in Saturday’s short time trial in Budapest and gave up 24 seconds in the overall to stage winner and main threat Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco). Every second counts but such a time deficit must also be put into perspective given the high mountains that are to come later on in the race.

Richie Porte’s VeloNews blog

“It’s not panic stations at all, over at Ineos, and I think that they’ll actually be quite happy to see the situation with Yates going so well so early and Pello Bilbao, he’s been in such good form already for a number of weeks. I think that he will fall away further into the Giro,” McEwen said during Eurosport’s weekend commentary.

McEwen also backed the notion of Ineos keeping Richie Porte in GC contention for as long as possible.

The Australian came into the race as Carapaz’s superdomestique but told VeloNews ahead of the event that he was training as though he was a GC rider. Porte is in his final year as a pro and taking part in his final grand tour but according to McEwen, the VeloNews diarist has the chance to put in a top overall ride of his own. Porte currently sits 13th overall, and 22 seconds down on Yates.

“Ineos are just going to stick to the plan. I think that it’s important for them to not only look after Carapaz but to keep Richie Porte on board as a GC contender. They don’t want to let him fall away, or fall away into that domestique role because I think that he could finish on the podium in this year’s Giro d’Italia if he rode as a leader,” McEwen said.

“Keeping him in the mindset of riding as a GC contender and not saying ‘I’m not here to ride for GC, and losing time here and there, dropping off and losing minutes. They’ve got to say you are protected, stay with Richard Carapaz all the way to the finish and if you feel good why not go? A two-pronged attack is better than one.”

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