By Sophie Smith
Richie Porte has been left to rue what might have been at the Giro d’Italia but has recovered from the illnesses that scuppered his opportunity to lead a Team Sky title assault as he looks toward the Tour de France.
The chance to race for the maglia rosa was a contract sweetener for the 29-year-old who extended with the British outfit last year but never took to the Belfast Grand Partenza to which Sky instead sent an opportunistic squad.
Porte finished an intensive Tenerife training camp yesterday in seemingly good health ahead of the June 8-15 Criterium du Dauphine that he is due to start. He has not finished a stage race since February's Ruta del Sol and was forced to abandon Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta a Catalunya and the Tour of Romandie all through illness.
"After Tirreno I was properly sick and then I got a cold and a few other things as well," Porte told Cycling Weekly from altitude. "I turned up to Catalunya and that’s when I knew it wasn’t going to happen. There was no way I was going to be as good as I could be in May.
“I’m getting much better now, which is good,” he continued. “I have been a sick young man the past few months. I’ll have another blood test when I get down from altitude but the way I’m feeling now I think I’m definitely through it and I’ll be fresh for the Tour.”
Sky coach Rod Ellingworth has said Porte deserves, and will get a break, to vie for a Grand Tour victory, but whether that comes at the Vuelta a Espana this season remains to be seen.
“I have actually thought about it but then I think back to 2012 also where I went from the Tour to the Vuelta,” Porte said. The former Paris-Nice champion finished the Tour 34th overall that year with Sky and was eighth in the mountains classification at the Vuelta in what was a long season.
“At this point in time I’m not looking that much past the Tour de France but also I haven’t raced that much this year so I might be a little bit fresher coming out of it. It’s always an option,” he continued.
Tour de France champion Chris Froome was in Tenerife with Porte and five other teammates likely to line-up at the Yorkshire Grand Depart. The selfless Porte is happy to there reprise his role as Froome’s right-hand man.
Two Sky riders in 2012 Tour winner Bradley Wiggins and runner-up Chris Froome have previously stood on the final podium in Paris and, you never know, the disappointment of missing a shot at the Giro just may serve as added motivation for Porte, who is considered much more than a super domestique.
“That would be a dream but I know we’re going there for Chris and that makes sense,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the Tour. We’ve got a good team so hopefully I won’t have to sacrifice until a little bit later this year.”
Read more of Richie Porte’s standing within Team Sky in next week’s Cycling Weekly magazine. The Aussie also shares 10 insights into friend and teammate Chris Froome in the Tour de France edition of Cycle Sport magazine, which is out soon.
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