Porte to debut at Tour Down Under

The only confirmed 2014 race dates for Richie Porte are the Tour Down Under and the Giro d'Italia, where he will race for GC

Photo: Watson

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Aussie Richie Porte is joining his Team Sky teammates this week on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca as the team regroups ahead of the 2014 season.

For Porte, who enjoyed a breakout season with victory at Paris-Nice, next season presents new challenges, with Sky cutting him loose for a run at the Giro d’Italia.

“The Giro is my big goal next year, then I’d love to go back to the Tour and ride in a similar support role for Chris (Froome),” Porte told VeloNews via telephone. “I did the Giro-Tour double in 2011, and I know it’s not easy.”

Porte said he would be sitting down with Sky coaches and staffers this week to plot a roadmap for the 2014 season.  So far, his only confirmed race dates are a season debut at the Santos Tour Down Under (January 19-26) and the 97th Giro (May 9-June 1).

Porte is no stranger to riding two grand tours in one season, but it’s one thing to ride in support, and something quite different to race for the overall.

“At the moment that’s the plan,” Porte said. “A grand tour is a grand tour. I know it’s not just physically hard, but it’s mentally hard, as well. I hope to have a good Giro and be back in the Tour for the third year in a row.”

Following his triumphant 2013 season, which included an overall victory at Paris-Nice, and also saw Porte ride to second overall at Critérium International,  Tour of the Basque Country, and  Critérium du Dauphiné, Porte has earned the trust of Sky brass, and they will set him up for a run at the Giro.

“I had the best season of my career. Winning Paris-Nice and then being part of the winning Tour de France team for the second year in a row, well, it’s a privilege,” he continued. “To be part of what’s happened with the team the past two seasons has been just incredible.”

For 2014, he’s taking aim at the maglia rosa, returning to the grand tour where he made his impressive debut in 2010 when he wore the pink jersey and rode to seventh overall. This time, his aim will be for outright victory.

He also expects he will back to the Tour, where he hopes to help Froome win his second straight yellow jersey and be part of Team Sky’s third consecutive Tour-winning squad.

That ambitious calendar is payback for his ever-growing confidence and ability to deliver results.

“It was more just having the opportunity to ride for myself and having a chance to show it,” Porte said. “The team had confidence in me, and gave me a chance at races like Paris-Nice and Vuelta al País Vasco [where Porte was second to Nairo Quintana.] It’s one thing to get that chance, but there’s quite a bit of stress that comes with that. I was happy it paid off, for me and the team.”

Porte, who is under contract with Team Sky through 2015, also downplayed comments made to an Australian newspaper last week that were picked up by various websites.

“The thing is if I want to ride for the Tour for myself one day, I don’t see that happening at Sky, but that doesn’t mean that I am unhappy at Sky,” he said. “I never said I want to leave Sky after 2015. This is the best team for me right now.”

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