Once again Richie Porte will start his season at the Tour Down Under where the 34-year-old will be aiming for a seventh consecutive win on Willunga Hill. The Trek-Segafredo rider will lead a strong squad at the first WorldTour event of 2020, with new world champion Mads Pedersen also in Australia next month.
Attracting huge crowds, Willunga Hill has been the signature climb of the Tour Down Under for some years, and Porte has mastered it, winning there each season since 2014. However, winning the stage does not necessarily lead to overall victory, the Tasmanian has won the general classification only once.
After his home race, Porte will continue his season by targeting Paris-Nice. The Race to the Sun has been another happy hunting ground for the Australian, since 2013 he was won five stages and the general classification twice.
The Tour de France has not brought similar success for Porte though, and this year he will share leadership with Dutch team-mate, Bauke Mollema.
The Australian’s relationship with the Tour has been a fractious one over the years. While he possesses the talents and physical attributes to challenge in France – he is excellent both in the mountains and against the clock – he has rarely performed to expectations.
Last year he lost time in the early team time trial and in crosswinds, and while he recovered some time in the individual time trial, he failed to shine in the late mountains stages, eventually finishing 11th overall.
He failed to finish the two preceding editions, falling victim to injuries sustained in some horrific crashes. However, he is far from an also-ran in France, his best finish coming with fifth place in 2016, his first year leading the BMC team.
After the Tour Under, new world champion Perdersen will show off the rainbow jersey at the cobbled classics before building towards supporting Porte and Mollema in France.
Trek-Segafredo also announced a provisional calendar for new recruit Vincenzo Nibali. Having joined for 2020 from Bahrain-Merida, the Italian will lead at Tirreno-Adriatico before bidding for a third win at May’s Giro d’Italia.
One of the sport’s most consistent three-week competitors, Nibali is one of only two current riders to have won all three grand tours, and may well join Mollema at the Vuelta a España late in the season.