The next big day at the Tour de France will be Sunday’s Roubaix stage — that was the prediction of BMC Racing sports director Fabio Baldato after his riders finished safely in the bunch on stage four.
“The next stage to be attentive is the Roubaix stage,” said Baldato, who insisted the pavé would be no problem for Porte, who finished 17 minutes back while working as a domestique for Team Sky on the Cambrai stage in 2015, which featured seven cobble sections.
“Once he’s on the stage with the team around him he doesn’t think about it, he’s really positive. I’m confident it will be good,” Baldato said.
Porte currently lies 14th on GC, 51 seconds back. GC contenders ahead of him include Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), third at three seconds, Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), seventh at 11 seconds, and Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac), who despite a scare when he was held up behind a crash on Tuesday, managed to conserve a 35-second gap to yellow.
Watch: Tour de France 2018 preview
Many observers are looking to Thursday’s Mûr de Bretagne stage to spark at little GC action, but Baldato isn’t convinced.
“We’ll go there just to stay in the front,” he said. “It isn’t a case of going there to attack but it is important to remain with the contenders. If you’re not in the front it’s easy to lose 10 or 15 seconds because of a split in the peloton.”
He also said that the team would defend Van Avermaet’s yellow jersey but only to a degree. “We will, but we won’t do it for free,” Baldato said. “We’re not going to go crazy to keep it because our main goal is to get Richie on the podium.
“We need to save energy and keep the good momentum,” he added. “Spend energy day by day and don’t give too much so we don’t go all-in just one day and maybe be in trouble afterwards.”
Asked if Porte could win this year he remained cautious: “We hope, we try, that’s the goal. We had trouble on stage one and now we’re almost back, there’s still some guys ahead of us, but we’re at least close to Froome and other riders.”
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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields.
Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.
A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now in the past, although that doesn't stop him banging on tirelessly about "that one time" he nearly rode a 20-minute '10', and planning the big comeback that everyone knows will never actually happen.
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