Richie Porte's nightmare spring campaign turned a corner after David Brailsford told him to 'stop banging his head against the wall.' "It clicked at our April training camp in Tenerife when Dave took me aside and said that to me," Porte said this morning ahead of a rest day training ride around Besançon.
"That's what I was trying to do, to go from a seven-out-of-ten to a ten-out-of-ten," Porte said this morning. "Dave said to me, 'Just relax. We're behind you. You've got the talent, so let's just relax and get into it.'"
Porte rode well in the pre-season, winning a stage at the Tour Down Under in January before returning to Europe. At Tirreno-Adriatico in mid-March, he fell sick and struggled to get going again. He missed his chance to lead Sky's Giro d'Italia team and was reportedly told by the team that his chance to race the Tour was at risk.
Brailsford's talk, though, helped get Porte back on the right road. The 29-year-old Tasmanian started the Tour de France as Chris Froome's helper and after Froome abandoned, took over leadership.
"Since that [talk], I've been more pro then I've ever been, doing my core training every morning, really watching my diet. At the Dauphiné, I was in great shape, but just one day I had a disaster on the first mountain day. My form's been good for the last month or so," continued Porte.
"When you have this opportunity... At Paris-Nice last year, I didn't think I was going to have that opportunity, but when I did, I had to take it. The Tour's the biggest opportunity of all of them."
Porte led the chase after Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) attacked to win the La Planche des Belles Filles stage and re-take the yellow jersey yesterday. Porte lost 25 seconds and now sits in second place, two minutes 23 seconds behind Nibali in the overall classication. The stage to Risoul, said Porte, could be the next window of opportunity regain time over terrain that he prefers.
Froome returned to Monaco immediately after quitting the Tour with a fractured left wrist and right hand, but has been in contact with his friend and training partner.
"I got a message from him yesterday, just telling me about tactics and the guys sitting on my wheel," Porte said. "It's nice to have support from guys like him, obviously, I'll talk to him in the next week or so," Porte explained.
"The last thing he said to me before he left was that I can have these guys, to believe that. He also told other guys in the team, 'Get around Richie.' You appreciate that. Sometimes it seems that Chris has more belief in me than I do in myself.
"Now it's my opportunity to show that next year, I can not only be supporting him, but another card to play."
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