Richie Porte, after a team Sky training camp in Spain, returned to Australia this weekend with his 2014 plan. Winning the Giro d'Italia takes priority followed by helping Chris Froome repeat the feat in the Tour de France.
"Winning the Giro is more important," Porte told Cycling Weekly. "It's a dream."
The 28-year-old from Tasmania focused on the Tour since joining Sky in 2012. He helped Bradley Wiggins win and this year, Froome. He was so prepared for the task that Sky marked him as the backup leader in case Froome abandoned or lost time.
For 2014 Porte believes Froome will have a stronger support team. He listed new Spanish climber Mikel Nieve, Vasil Kiryienka, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Sergio Henao and Pete Kennaugh.
"I've talked to the team at the camp in Majorca [Spain]. I'm down for the Tour but the Giro's my big focus," Porte said. "I raced the Giro and Tour with Alberto Contador in 2011. I've been there before and it's not easy to go to the Tour afterwards. Hopefully, I'll come out of the Giro in great form [because] I want to be there again to do what I did this year for Chris in the mountains."
Along with helping Froome and Wiggins in the mountains, Porte developed into a leader in his four years as a professional. In 2010, his debut year with team Saxo Bank, he wore the leader's pink jersey and won the young riders classification at the Giro d'Italia. Given his chance to lead team Sky, he won the Tour of Algarve and Paris-Nice, and placed second in the Tour of the Basque Country. Helping Froome, he placed second in the Critérium International and the Critérium du Dauphiné this year.
Though he was already at home for the winter, Porte flew the 14 hours back to Majorca for Sky's planning camp. He told the team's brass, including General Manger David Brailsford, that he wants to lead a Grand Tour team. He got his wish.
"It's hard. It's unpredictable," Porte said of the Italian stage race, May 9 to June 1.
"It didn't go like Bradley planned this year. Obviously he won the Tour; he can probably win the Giro too but the races are totally different. We saw that the way Vincenzo Nibali and team Astana raced it, it was a lot less controlled than the Tour was last year. That's thing with the Italian teams, even if they are not in the overall classification they will light it up for a stage win, which is a lot different than the Tour where it's often up to the sprinter and classification teams to control the race."
Thinking of the Giro goal, Sky programmed Italian races in Porte's spring programme. He begins at home with the Tour Down Under, races the Tour of Andalusia in Spain and returns to defend his Paris-Nice title. He visits Bella Italia at the Coppi e Bartali and Giro del Trentino stage races.
"It's a mix. I'm little nervous but at the same time excited," Porte explained. "Every ride is preparation for this big opportunity to lead Sky in Grand Tour. The Giro is important. I know how important it is because I raced my amateur years in Italy. I'm ready to take the opportunity with both hands."
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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