SAINT FÉLICIEN, France (VN) — Richie Porte will be back in a supporting role at the Tour de France, for Team Sky, if all goes to plan. One year after helping Alberto Contador at Saxo Bank, he’ll support one of the top favorites, Bradley Wiggins.
“The team is not selected yet, but you don’t need to be Einstein to figure out he’s there,” Sky sports director, Sean Yates told VeloNews. “He’s one of our better riders, even if all of our riders are good.”
Porte propelled his way to the top in his debut year with Saxo Bank in 2010. He won the Tour de Romandie time trial and, one month later, took control of the Giro d’Italia. He wore the leader’s pink jersey for three days and won the overall classification for best young rider.
“The first time I met him was two years ago when he was lost in the streets of Amsterdam,” Yates explained with a grin. “He’d been left to find his own way back to the finish to pick up the white jersey. I was on my way to pick up Brad who won the prologue and had pink.”
Yates looked over at Porte and his other charges, cooling down Tuesday afternoon after the Critérium du Dauphiné stage in Saint Félicien.
Porte, Michael Rogers, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Chris Froome and Christian Knees have all grown closer to Wiggins in the last months via races and training camps. The select group was part of high-altitude camps in Tenerife in the last month and will likely form the core of Sky’s GC team in the Tour de France.
They’ve all gone well this year. Rogers recently won his first stage race since the Amgen Tour of California two years ago at Bayern Rundfarht. Three of his teammates, including Porte, were in the top-10 overall. Porte also won the Volta ao Algarve and placed fourth in Romandie.
Wiggins notched up Romandie and Paris-Nice overall wins. He leads the Dauphiné by one second ahead of Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and is building confidence in the team.
“Brad’s no stress. He’s a leader, that’s what every team needs. Look, he looks after his guys. I couldn’t speak more highly of the man,” Porte told VeloNews.
He said that he’d be proud just to be in the Tour team with everyone going so well and the need for men to support Mark Cavendish in the sprints. He added, “The hardest thing in this team is to make the Tour team. That’s an achievement in its self.”
Beyond 2012, Porte could become one of Sky’s grand tour leaders, according to Yates.
“He’s not fulfilled his potential by a long shot,” Yates added. “Physically, he is very good; he’s near the top group of pro riders with his climbing and time trial, but he needs to learn a little bit more about cycling and responsibilities.
“He’s got all the attributes to be a grand tour rider… He’s trying to be there, in the top top; he’s not that far off.”