After a few weeks relaxing away from the bike, Richie Porte and Nicolas Roche seemed relaxed and positive at BMC Racing‘s pre-season training camp in Spain, unsurprisingly talking up the prospects of Porte challenging for the Tour de France title in 2017.
Doing so would of course require Porte to get the better of Chris Froome, and with Froome a former teammate and current training partner of both men, the natural question was how BMC would go about beating Team Sky.
“The great thing about cycling is as predictable as it can be on some days, there are other days where anything could happen,” Roche explained.
“You can take the race on at a certain point, and catch everyone out, which is one of Contador’s strong points. If you’re not focusing for a second then he’d go for it.
“Chris has won a lot of races and he’s been dominating the Tour for the last few years. But he hasn’t won every race: he’s been beaten at the Vuelta [where Froome lost two minutes on stage 15 after Contador attacked just three kilometres into the stage] and he’s lost other races too.”
Watch: Tour de France 2017 – essential guide
Porte also seems to be hoping for a bit on unpredictability come July, although maybe not of the kind that saw him puncture and lose nearly two minutes on the second stage of the 2016 Tour, probably costing him a spot on the podium in Paris.
“It’s easy to sit here and wonder how it’s going to work out, but it’s a race, and someone will do something unpredictable each day.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a negative Tour. There are enough teams who want to rip the race apart that it will be exciting to watch and such a hard race.
“Chris is obviously a brilliant rider, but that doesn’t stop us from taking advantage if he has a bad day.”
Spotting the opportunity to take advantage of a Froome jour sans is one of the reasons that Roche has made the move from Sky to BMC for 2017, after being specifically asked for by Porte, perhaps a sign that Porte is growing into his role as principal Tour leader at the American team with Tejay van Garderen being consigned to the Giro in 2017.
“People query my ability to ride three weeks, but it’s different when you’re not the leader of the team and you’re there to ride for them,” explained the Australian.
“To go into next year as the team’s only leader at the Tour will be totally different and it’s a massive opportunity for me.
“Last year’s Tour gave me confidence as I wasn’t too far off the podium with a bit of bad luck along the way.
“There were times when I attacked and others were on the limit, and I was climbing at least as well as the other contenders.
“There aren’t as many mountain finishes in 2017, but you’ve still got to be climbing well, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to stay with the other guys when the proverbial hits the fan.”