Geraint Thomas on Richie Porte: "I hope he comes second behind us at Tour Down Under"

Geraint Thomas talks about riding against former Sky team-mate Richie Porte in the opening WorldTour race of the 2016 season, and his aims for the race

Geraint Thomas, Revolution Series, London, November 2015
(Image credit: Andy Jones)

Geraint Thomas may find himself at competitive odds with former Sky team-mate Richie Porte at the Tour Down Under next week with neither completely ruling out a shot at overall honours.

The 29-year-old was in fine spirits at a pre-race press conference on Saturday in which he outlined an opportunistic team outlook but also hinged his own potential title bet on the category one Corkscrew climb, which features on stage three.

“We’ll see how Corkscrew goes, it’s the first real test,” Thomas said in Adelaide, South Australia. “I feel OK in training but it depends how [defending champion Rohan Dennis] and a few others go to see our final ambitions.

>>> Tour Down Under 2016: Stage by stage

“I’m super excited about racing. I haven’t raced since the [September] Vuelta a Espana and I love coming here. We’ve been here just over two weeks now and it’s great to be back.”

Thomas has well documented objectives at the Tour de France this season and so has arrived in Australia for the first WorldTour event on the calendar with a longer-term perspective than previous years.

“Last year I had a really good Tour [de France] and that opened my eyes to what I could do there in the future, so in November and December I trained hard but I wasn’t like, ‘I really want to go to Oz firing,’” he said.

Richie Porte wins stage four of the 2015 Paris-Nice

Richie Porte (left) and Geraint Thomas (right) are former Sky team-mates turned rivals
(Image credit: Watson)

“I’m pretty chilled but I’ve hopefully still got some good legs to race and get stuck in and see what happens.”

Dennis will lead a two-prong attack with Porte, who makes his debut with BMC at the Tour Down Under following four years at Sky during which he assisted two Tour de France champions in Bradley Wiggins and then Chris Froome.

>>> Tour Down Under 2016: Latest news, reports, previews and more

Thomas knows Porte well, which may work to his advantage during the six-stage race here.

“I hope he does really well and comes second behind us,” the Welshman said dryly.

“He’s going to be shouting at us now rather than BMC; we used to love that going up a climb.”

The pair are bound on a similar trajectory this season. Thomas is set to target a general classification result with Froome at the Tour de France, as will Porte and BMC frontman Tejay van Garderen.

Watch: Tour Down Under 2016 preview

“I think we’ve got a similar programme as well so it’s going to be an interesting but exciting year,” Thomas said. “He’s gone off to get a bit more of his freedom now and the Tour is something he really wants to do well in. I’d love to see him do well. For me, it’s a similar story.”

Sky has sent a strong squad to Down Under that also includes national champion Peter Kennaugh as well as Sergio Henao, Salvatore Puccio, Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and sprinter Ben Swift.

>>> Tour Down Under live TV guide

“We’ve got a strong team here and it’s a bit of an up for anyone to take their chance,” said Thomas, who finished third overall in 2013.

Swift stands as a contender for the People’s Choice Classic criterium tomorrow, which precedes the start of the race proper on Tuesday.

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Sophie Smith is an Australian journalist, broadcaster and author of Pain & Privilege: Inside Le Tour. She follows the WorldTour circuit, working for British, Australian and US press, and has covered 10 Tours de France.