Richie Porte is looking to put a poor year of results behind him as he begins preparation for 2015, saying the best thing to come out of the season is that he's now "hungrier" to get going for next year.
The Team Sky rider started 2014 well, finishing third in the Australian national championships and taking a stage in the Tour Down Under as well as finishing fourth overall, but failed to find any form in the main part of the season.
“It was a rough season. It started well and I was where I needed to be in January and February,” Porte told the Team Sky website.
“But I got sick a few times which meant I didn’t have the most straightforward year. In October I came off a month of antibiotics and I feel much, much better.
“Probably the only good thing about having a bad year is that it does make you hungrier,” he said.
The Tasmanian was looking to take on leadership of Sky's Giro d'Italia team as part of his key goals for the season, but his illness meant he had to abandon his own grand tour aspirations and focus on helping teammate Chris Froome defend his Tour de France title.
After Froome crashed out of the Tour early on, Porte took over leadership of the team and held second place in the GC past the mid-point of the Tour, but was unable to match the other contenders as illness reportedly blighted his season once again.
“Obviously the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that the Tour is hard enough as it is without throwing in some sickness,” Porte said.
“It was a disaster when Chris went home but the form I had going into the Tour was quite good.”
“I got through the rough stuff - which was basically the first 12 stages - sitting second on GC.
“That was the dream as it's always been my ambition to finish on the podium in the Tour, but then it turned into a nightmare. Obviously I think about it as a missed opportunity, but you’ve got to get on with it.”
Porte is now looking to get ready for the new cycling year, and having taken an early start to the off-season, the former Paris-Nice winner is already building the foundations for what he is hoping will be a defining year in his career.
“I’ve been doing a lot of gym work and a lot of swimming and walking,” he said.
“This off-season I finished earlier, so I’ve had to start again earlier. I’ve been rolling home via the Col de la Madone, which is probably the most famous climb where I’m based. I really enjoy doing that and during the season Froomey and I often train together and go over La Madone.”
“I’m coming into this period seven kilos lighter than I was at this time last year. I’m definitely ready to go and ready to really step it up. I’d love to have a big year.”
The 29-year-old will race a criterium event with Froome one his home island in early December as part of his pre-season preparations, and will likely continue his trend of starting the season off at the nationals and the Tour Down Under.
And Porte says that there will be no shortage of determination from his teammates to recapture the form to get the kind of big race results they were recording prior to 2014.
“We had two years of massive success. It’s almost like we needed to have this year. But we’ve also had a lot of bad luck – with Geraint (Thomas) at Paris-Nice, Sergio (Henao’s) crash, myself, Yogi (Ian Stannard) and Froomey.
“It hasn’t been a straightforward year. I guess it’s hard to measure luck, but we’ve had our fair share of bad. It just makes everyone doubly determined to have a great season next year.”
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