Richie Porte debuts in Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday as one of Sky’s leaders. Along with Chris Froome and the Colombians, Rigoberto Urán and Sergio Henao, he will have his chance to win – even if he disagrees.
“I learnt in Flèche Wallonne that you don’t come here on your first time and win,” Porte told a small group of journalists including Cycling Weekly.
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“Has anyone ever done it? It’s usually the seasoned pros that win them, the guys that know every climb and every turn.”
Froome, who already raced Liège a handful of times, arrives tomorrow. Porte reconnoitred the parcours today with sports director Nicolas Portal, the Colombians and the other riders.
“It’s different to what I’ve been doing lately, these are shorter climbs. Also the stress and fight, in Flèche Wallonne I wasn’t really prepared for it. I’m guessing Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be the same. A lot of teams will want to control it, Sky will be one of them,” Porte continued.
“Katusha with Dani Moreno and Joaquím Rodríguez… those guys are suited to those climbs. Sky has five strong guys, who in any another team would be the outright leader. Strength in numbers. Sergio’s shown he’s strong and ready to win.”
Porte also had a similar pessimistic outlook ahead of Paris-Nice, where he counted himself out ahead of the race.
“Yeah, I should say that about every race! I have won Paris-Nice and it relaxes me for these races.”
Maybe Porte is right, though. The bookmakers only give him 30:1 odds. Or maybe he will nail the right escape in the final kilometres and ride free for the win.
“After Flèche, if you would’ve asked me, I would’ve said I’m never coming back!” continued Porte. “Flèche Wallonne is different from Liège-Bastogne-Liège, one where it’d sometimes be better just to sit at home and watch on the couch. Liège could be something I could win.”
“I hope so. I think so,” Portal added. “He says it’s the first time and such, but a lot of guys can be there for the win. It’s not like a stage race that’s more controlled. Why not try to follow the moves and try to win?
Froome at home
Froome skipped the reconnaissance and enjoyed an extra day at home in Monaco. In fact, he may even miss the race’s team presentation tomorrow in Liège.
Portal explained that he needs to be mentally, not just physically, ready for his upcoming race programme.
“He did a Tenerife training camp and needed time to recover,” Portal said. “Plus he’s going straight to the Tour of Romandy after this. So, he’s trying to get more time at home. It’s not just about training, but mentally, you need to be super-fresh here.”