Richie Porte is still bitterly disappointed about being overlooked for Australia’s Olympic Games road team as he prepares for his Vuelta a Espana debut from Saturday.
Porte will start tomorrow’s 234km San Sebastian classic ahead of his second Grand Tour of the season alongside training partner and Tour de France runner-up Chris Froome.
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The 27-year-old found it difficult watching London 2012 from this Monaco base with the road race and time trial immediately following the Tour in which he played a key role in Bradley Wiggins’s victory.
“It was a little bit disappointing to not go to the Olympics but I guess there is always going to be someone a little bit disappointed,” Porte told Cycling Weekly.
“I don’t understand how I wasn’t even on the long list. I think that was more of a bitter pill to swallow.”
Porte signed with Sky at the end of 2011 and was looking forward to stepping out of the limelight and focusing more on development – under coach Bobby Julich – this year. The Tasmanian burst onto the scene at the 2010 Giro d’Italia where, as a neo-professional, he finished seventh overall and won the best young rider jersey.
The Australian national road bronze medallist has worked on climbing, perhaps at the expense of his time trialling, supporting Wiggins throughout the season. Porte said he has not been time trialling as well this year but believes he had the form to warrant a look-in to the London 2012 road race team. He won the Volta ao Algarve in February, finished fourth overall at both the Tour of Romandie and Bayern-Rundfahrt, plus was ninth at the Criterium du Dauphine, which Wiggins, as with Romandie, won.
“I’ve been so consistent all year and then it’s a little bit, I don’t know, I just don’t think selectors acknowledge the season that I’ve put together,” he said.
“It’s the problem with Australia being so powerful, there’s always going to be someone at home watching the race.”
Porte recovered quickly and well after the Tour. He has been training with Froome, who won time trial bronze in London, and says the all-rounder is strong enough to rival Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) in the Spaniard’s Grand Tour return following a doping suspension.
Porte supported Contador at both the Giro d’Italia and Tour last year.
“Froomey and I do a lot of training together and I decided that if he’s doing the Vuelta then I’d like to do it. (Sky sports scientist) Tim Kerrison looked at my files and saw that I wasn’t really that tired,” Porte said.
“In the Tour I did my job and I got out of there. I never really made grupetto but if I wasn’t doing my job I was allowed to drop out of the sprint finishes and sometimes the last 5K I’d get out of the mountain stages. There is never an easy way, you can’t just spin the legs to the finish, but I came out much better than I have ever before at a Grand Tour.
“I’m going to the Vuelta more for Froomey but when you look at the team we have there’s Rigo (Rigoberto Uran) and Sergio (Henao) and myself – we’ve all been top 10 in a Grand Tour. If it all goes according to plan we could really have something to challenge Alberto, maybe put him on the back foot somewhere. We’ve got our work cut-out with Alberto coming back, he’s motivated and he’s the man probably to beat.”
Porte is hopeful of selection for the world championships. He represented Australia in the time trial at both the 2010 and 2011 titles finishing sixth and fourth, respectively. He ended his Tour on a personal high placing fifth in the penultimate time trial stage.