Richie Porte's high hopes for Tour de France

Richie Porte on podium, Paris-Nice 2013, stage five

Richie Porte is getting ready for the Critérium International in Corsica after a week reflecting on his Paris-Nice win. He feels it proved that he is another card to play for Team Sky at the Tour de France.

"There's a pecking order, but now this shows that if there's a team that's willing to support me at the race then I can finish it off," the Aussie told Cycling Weekly in a telephone conversation on Friday.

"Brad [Wiggins] and Chris [Froome] showed that you can work together and get one-two in the classification. As long I play the team card, and I'm there close to the podium, it's not a bad option to have a guy like me as another card to play."

Porte is part of Sky's rough Tour team with only three months before the race starts in Corsica. The draft list clearly includes Froome and Wiggins, and riders like Sergio Henao, David Lopez and Vasil Kiryienka.

Porte last year led Wiggins and Froome to the mountain finals in the Tour. Paris-Nice, however, reminded everyone of his abilities.

He led the Giro d'Italia and won the young rider classification in his neo-pro year. After joining Sky last year, he won the Tour of Algarve in February. The win in Nice came against riders like future Grand Tour contenders Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp).

"Last year, I was a good climber, but not such a good time trial rider. The year before it was the opposite," Porte explained. "To join the dots, to ride at the front of the bunch in good position, which was always an issue for me, I've done that now, I won Paris-Nice... It's a massive confidence boost for the future."

At home with the lions

Porte returned home to his Euro-base in Monaco. Besides the yellow jersey, he brought along three stuffed Credit Lyonnais lions which organiser ASO gives for each day in the race lead.

The lions sit nicely together. Porte, however, continues his training in the mountains above Monaco and Nice.

"It sounds silly, but just to have those lions [from] one of the biggest races in the world. Going from watching the Tour de France as a boy and then having three of those in my collection... It's strange, but it means the world to me," he continued.

"I'm always just Richie Porte, but Paris-Nice is one of the big ones, to win the overall and two stages on the way, it's going to take a little while to sink in. It could be the making of me as a bike rider."

Porte arrives in Corsica today. He weighs 63kg. He says that he needs loses some kilos and train specifically heading towards the Tour.

Along the way, besides the Critérium International this weekend, he races the Tour of the Basque Country, Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Tour of Romandy, Bayern-Rundfahrt and the Critérium du Dauphiné. Paris-Nice, however, proved his value.

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