Richie Porte sits in an “ideal situation” to take on Sky’s leadership as the Tour de France reaches the mountains. The Australian missed his chance with the Giro d’Italia, but with Chris Froome abandoning, he can have another go in France.
Sky’s team boss, David Brailsford said, “It’s an absolutely ideal situation for Richie.”
Porte sits third overall in the ‘virtual classification’ at two minutes behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who let the yellow jersey go to Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) on Sunday.
The chance for him to lead team Sky fell into his lap when Froome crashed in stage five on Wednesday. Froome fractured his right hand and left wrist, and is recovering at home in Monaco now. His close friend Porte now leads the black and blue team.
Porte was supposed to have his chance in the Giro d’Italia this year but fell sick in the Tirreno-Adriatico in March. That shook up his spring training and racing plans, and forced him to reset for the Tour where already last year he was domestique number one.
“This time round when we went into the cobblestone stage we knew Richie wasn’t just a plan B. He was a plan A minus,” Brailsford continued. “We knew we had to be absolutely ready at any point for the whole team to switch to Richie. And that’s what happened.”
Brailsford explained that team Sky learned from its mistake in the 2011 Tour, when Wiggins crashed, broke his collarbone and all his team-mates stopped around him. Geraint Thomas wore the white jersey and lost it that day. Sky did not have a plan A minus, B or C. It was “not prepared.”
Afterwards, Froome supported Wiggins in 2012, Porte supported Froome in 2013 and in 2014, after Froome abandoned, Porte moved into the driver’s seat.
“Richie’s confidence has grown a lot over the last couple of years and not just now,” Brailsford said.
“Winning Paris-Nice was a big moment for him. It really got his belief systems in place and he kicked on from there a little. It was unfortunate he got sick in Tirreno because he really wanted his opportunity in the Giro and all being well, he would have gone terrifically well.
He is so close… you do get your opportunity, and when it comes, you grasp it. That’s life and I think he is grasping it.”
Porte will have his chance on Monday, up the same La Planche Des Belles Filles climb where Wiggins took the yellow jersey and Froome won the stage in the 2012 Tour. Porte, after helping his leaders, placed 13th at 1-14. Brailsford gave every indication that Porte will grasp the opportunity that he has in front of him.
“It’s the Tour de France, isn’t it?” Brailsford said. “It’s a race. It would be a shame if you just had a procession from now to Paris, wouldn’t it?”