The summit was where Porte recorded his first and only victory of the 2014 season in what was a disappointing year that has served as motivation over a winter the 29-year-old has trained smarter throughout.
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Porte currently sits fifth overall and 15 seconds adrift of race leader Rohan Dennis whose BMC team has a stranglehold on the general classification with Cadel Evans second on standings.
Victory is a goal tomorrow but consistency is the bigger objective for the Tasmanian, who this year hasn’t left Sky head of athlete performance Tim Kerrison aghast with a 400km birthday training ride.
“We’ve always given him a training programme and I wouldn’t say he has been the best at complying with what has been given to him in the past,” Kerrison told Cycling Weekly.
“He’s done some and he’s put his own interpretation on the training programme I guess. He loves riding his bike, and he loves going out and doing some crazy long rides from time to time, but it’s one of the things that Richie, working with me and [team psychiatrist] Steve Peters, identified is not productive. It’s not productive for him to be doing extra training and hiding it from us because that’s what he enjoys doing.”
Willunga is a longer climb that should suit a leaner Porte more so than Thursday’s uphill finish in Paracombe where BMC assumed race leadership and the Australian time-trial champion finished sixth, but not defeated.
The tour is a platform en route to a career second maglia rosa assault at the Giro d’Italia, the race Porte first announced his potential as a Grand Tour contender winning the 2011 young rider classification as a rookie. His opportunity to lead Sky at the Italian spectacle last year was felled by illnesses all parties hope to avoid in 2015.
“One of the things we’re looking at this year, and I think it’s something that will help Richie, is just to be more consistent,” Kerrison said. “That is, to look out for himself better, to have more consistency in his training, in his lifestyle and how he looks after himself across the board. That alone will help me to minimise the chance of getting sick again, but it is one of those things you don’t necessarily have 100 percent control over.
“He’s been working really hard with a lot of our team support staff to identify the areas where he has to try and improve to get more consistent with his performances, one of which was his nutrition and body composition,” Kerrison continued.
“He’s done a really good job looking after himself better, fuelling better and he’s been training well. He’s obviously very lean coming here, but he believes, and I believe, that what he is now is sustainable and he’s not having to work too hard to get to where he’s at now.”