Richie Porte has praised British trainer David Bailey ahead of the Critérium du Dauphiné (June 5-12) in which he’ll face former Sky teammate Chris Froome for the final time before the pair take opposing sides at the Tour de France.
Porte left Sky for BMC at the end of last season with the motive of chasing his own title success at the Tour, following years of loyal service to two-time champion Froome and Bradley Wiggins before that.
The 31-year-old has worked outside of his comfort zone this year in preparation for a career first maillot jaune assault and has adapted well to Bailey’s slow-burn approach to the blue riband Grand Tour. It’s a contrast to a more rigid training and dietary schedule he formerly followed under Sky head of athlete performance Tim Kerrison.
“Now I’m working with a British coach David Bailey and he comes from the British Cycling background as well so he’s good,” Porte said from his Monaco home.
“He’s kind of let me do my own thing, general training, up until now and now is when it all kicks off. We’re five weeks from the Tour so I’m happy with where I’m at, at the moment. I’m in pretty good condition.
“Obviously coming from such a fantastic team like Sky it was always a bit going into the unknown, but then to have guys like David Bailey and [BMC sporting manager] Allan Peiper it makes it easier,” he added.
“BMC is a fantastic team and I’m happy I did leave my comfort zone, which was Sky, and experience something else. I really hope come the Tour I can really challenge and have my opportunity because that’s what these next two years are, a massive opportunity for me.”
Porte has designs on the opening stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné – a 4km uphill prologue – and aims to finish on the podium at the end of the eight-day race that could be decided on the final day.
He has trained in and around his Monaco base since the Tour de Romandie in April, which he abandoned during the second stage due to a virus that has since subsided.
“I basically had to have a week off there, which was a bit of shame because we did a good altitude block and it was kind of wasted,” he said.
“I’ve been at home for a month, other than a little bit of recon, which is, to be honest I’ve hardly spent any time at home this year so to get like three weeks at home was absolutely brilliant. It’s been nice to be in the one spot for a little bit longer than 10 days.”
Porte was due to compete at the Dauphiné alongside Tejay van Garderen, who will co-captain BMC’s Tour de France team in July, however the latter will instead race at the Tour de Suisse.
“There is a time trial and more mountain-top finishes [at Suisse] so that was the only reason he swapped out,” Porte said.
The Dauphiné represents an opportunity for the Australian to gauge his form against not only Froome but other primary Tour rivals, including Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), before an altitude training camp and then the main event in July.