Australian Richie Porte is aiming for a fourth consecutive victory on Willunga Hill, the Tour Down Under's 'queen' climbing stage
Porte will head BMC Racing’s attack on the opening WorldTour race of the 2017 season in Australia – and he has form in the event, having won the ‘queen’ climbing stage since 2014.
“I’ve won on Willunga Hill on three occasions, so why not go for the fourth?” said the 31-year-old from Tasmania.
“The atmosphere on Willunga Hill is as good as any race in Europe, so I’m excited to get back there and test my legs.”
Porte finished the 2016 TDU in second place overall behind Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott), after winning stage five on Willunga Hill. He is seeking to go one better in 2017.
It would be the ideal start for Porte, whose first season with BMC in 2016 after switching from Sky didn’t quite go to plan after a mechanical issue during the Tour de France saw him lose time – though he rallied to fifth place overall behind former Sky team-mate Chris Froome. Porte’s Willunga win was his only victory in 2016.
“I love racing in Adelaide and having already been on the podium twice, I’d like to start the year with a good result at the Santos Tour Down Under and hopefully go one better,” said Porte.
“I’ve had a particularly long off-season since Rio [Olympic Games] so I’m ready to get back to racing. I have a strong team by my side and as an Australian it’s great to have all of the support from fans.”
Porte will be supported in the TDU by a strong roster of BMC’s riders, including 2015 TDU champion and fellow Australian Rohan Dennis.
Italian Damiano Caruso, Frenchman Amaël Moinard, Australian Miles Scotson, Swiss rider Danilo Wyss and Spaniard Francisco Ventoso complete BMC’s line-up for the six-day race.
Porte will face competition from four-time winner Gerrans, Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) and world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The 2017 Tour Down Under commences on Tuesday, January 17, and concludes on Sunday, January 22, in Adelaide, South Australia.