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NICE, France (VN) — Richie Porte defends Team Sky against those who question the team’s dominance in today’s peloton.
Team Sky’s impeccable performances have raised the eyebrows of some critics, who suggest that the UK-backed squad dominates races in a fashion reminiscent of Lance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team during the darkest days of the EPO era.
“Last year, we were like a steamroller and everyone is going to point the finger at the best team,” Porte said when asked by VeloNews during a press conference. “They’ll talk poppy but we can just keep doing what we’re doing.”
Team Sky barnstormed through the 2012 season, finishing first and second in the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
This month, Team Sky is showing no signs of slowing down. Porte won two stages and the overall at Paris-Nice while Froome won a stage and took the overall lead at Tirreno-Adriatico on Sunday.
Porte said there are no secrets at Team Sky except hard work and innovative ideas and training methods.
“How many teams are doing 25 minutes of threshold training at altitude? Do they look at our strength? We do our jobs. We’re professional,” he said. “Everyone used to laugh at us when we started to ride our trainers after the stages. Now 90 percent of the peloton is doing it. We’re trend-setters.”
Porte’s relatively calm reaction was in sharp contrast to Wiggins’ angry response to a similar question in last year’s Tour. Wiggins exploded when a journalist asked how he reacted to comments on social media, such as Twitter, doubting his performances.
“I say they’re just fucking wankers,” Wiggins said last year. “I cannot be doing with people like that. It justifies their own bone-idleness because they can’t ever imagine applying themselves to do anything in their lives. It’s easy for them to sit under a pseudonym on Twitter and write that sort of shit, rather than get off their asses in their own lives and apply themselves and work hard at something and achieve something.”
Later during last year’s Tour, Wiggins addressed the issue with a calmer voice.
The team has been roundly criticized for having controversial Dutch doctor Geert Leinders on its payroll until last fall. Leinders has been connected to doping practices during the early 2000s when he was part of the Rabobank staff, which in part prompted the Dutch bank to end its association with the team last fall.
Team Sky has since taken a harsher, zero-tolerance line, forcing several staffers out of their jobs last fall, including Bobby Julich.
Team boss Dave Brailsford insisted the team’s wins are clean and says the squad looks for marginal gains by pushing the limits with a strict anti-doping ethic.
Porte agreed that Team Sky works in a very different manner than other teams.
“When I was with [Bjarne] Riis at Saxo Bank, it was a very traditional team,” Porte said. “Sky is totally different. There is no other team training as hard as we do. The proof’s in the pudding.”
Still, the doubters are likely dog the team every time it wins. And after its ripping start to the 2013 season, Sky shows no signs of slowing down.