Porte on Santos Tour Down Under: “I want to perform. As an Aussie it’s the race to win”
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Porte on Santos Tour Down Under: “I want to perform. As an Aussie it’s the race to win”

by VeloNation Press at 6:54 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
Australian to lead Team Sky, will be backed by podium finish Thomas, Deignan and others

Richie PorteMaking clear that the race is a big objective for him rather than an early season preparation race, Richie Porte has said that he is serious in his approach for the Santos Tour Down Under and is aiming for the ochre leader’s jersey.

“I want to go to Tour Down Under and perform. As an Aussie it’s the race to win,” he said, speaking about the first WorldTour event of the year.

“It used to be a sprinter’s race but now there are some good climbs in there like Corkscrew and Willunga. I’ve spent a bit of time in Adelaide so I know the climbs pretty well. I think if I’m in good form and we have a strong team there [that he can go for the win – ed.]. If not me then through Geraint Thomas we also have a really good chance. He was brilliant there last season so it should be an interesting race.”

Thomas won stage two of the 2013 event and took over the race lead from the previous day’s victor, Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol).

He remained at the top of the leaderboard until stage five, when he cracked close to the top of Old Willunga Hill and dropped to fifth overall. He battled back on the final day by picking up bonus sprints during stage six in Adelaide, and ended up third overall.

Porte is from Launceston in Australia and so the Santos Tour Down Under is the closest thing he gets to a home WorldTour event. He will be one of the top draws there, but there will be others too.

“It’s great that there’s interest from an Australian perspective with Cadel [Evans] starting his season there – myself, Simon Gerrans and guys like that. I’ve been in Australia for the last month and you can see how big cycling is getting,” he said. “People are really taking an interest.”

Race director Mike Turtur knows that having the Sky rider there will secure extra publicity for the race, as well as giving the fans additional interest. This is particular relevant after he had a very strong season.

“Richie Porte showed what a phenomenal cyclist he is when he claimed victory at Paris-Nice, capitalising on two stage wins including the final individual time trial from Nice to Col d’Eze in the south of France,” he said. “With Porte being named in Team Sky Pro Cycling’s roster, a showdown between Porte and Cadel Evans is inevitable with both cyclists announcing their intention to target victory at the Giro D’Italia in 2014.

Because both riders are aiming to be in top shape for May, it means that they should be going better early on than they would otherwise be if their focus was the Tour de France.

Having a strong support team is also important. In addition to Thomas, Porte will also be backed by the Irish climber Philip Deignan, who will make his Sky debut there, former British champion Ian Stannard, Bernhard Eisel, Luke Rowe and Porte’s compatriot Chris Sutton.

“We have a really strong team heading to the Tour Down Under. Both Geraint and Richie have a good chance of being up there,” said Team Sky Race Coach Kurt-Asle Arvesen.

“It’s a nice course and it looks like there will be two key stages again like last year for the GC. We need to be on our toes. We learned our lessons last year that we need to get out there well before the race. That’s what we’re going to do this year. It’s always a great way to start the season and we’ll be more than ready for the race.

“Everyone is motivated: the Classics guys, Philip Deignan in his first race and also Richie. It’s been a few years since he’s done the race. He’s been out there in Adelaide and he knows the key stages. It’s a strong group.”

The programme of racing begins with the People’s Choice Classic in Adelaide on January 19th, then racing proper gets underway on January 21st with a 135 kilometre race from Nuriootpa to Angaston. Subsequent finishes will take place in Stirling, Campbelltown, Victor Harbor, Willunga Hill and Adelaide.

With Porte, Evans and Gerrans amongst the big names riding, Turtur knows that there will be a huge battle during the 875 kilometre race. “I imagine we will see some of the best climbing in the history of the Santos Tour Down Under,” he predicted.


Santos Tour Down Under 2013:

Team Sky roster:


Philip Deignan (Ireland)
Bernhard Eisel (Austria)
Luke Rowe (Great Britain)
Richie Porte (Australia)
Ian Stannard (Great Britain)
Christopher Sutton (Australia)
Geraint Thomas (Great Britain)


Stage details:


Sunday 19 January: People’s Choice Classic, Adelaide (50km)
Monday 20 January: Rest day
Tuesday 21 January: Stage 1, Nuriootpa to Angaston (135km)
Wednesday 22 January: BikeExchange.com.au Stage 2, Prospect to Stirling (150km)
Thursday 23 January: Stage 3, Norwood to Campbelltown (145km)
Friday 24 January: Bupa Stage 4, Unley to Victor Harbor (148.5km)
Saturday 25 January: Stage 5, McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill (151.5km)
Sunday 26 January: Stage 6, Adelaide (95km)

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