Porte riding into form, looking forward to Romandie
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Porte riding into form, looking forward to Romandie

by Shane Stokes at 10:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Romandie
 
Australian recovering from illness and feeling upbeat about progess

Richie PorteRichie Porte has been riding well today for Alberto Contador heading towards the day’s summit finish in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. The Australian Saxo Bank SunGard rider is playing an important role in setting up the team captain for his bid at the race lead, driving the pace of the main group en route to the final climb of the Laguna de los Peces.

With the exception of a couple of solid time trials, 2011 has until now been a relatively quiet one thus far for him. He was third in the TT stage at Paris-Nice and finished 22nd overall, then more recently placed eighth in the TT at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. He explained to VeloNation that ill health has held him back, but that he considers he is ahead of schedule when compared to last year.

“I have been pretty sick the last few weeks with pneumonia symptoms. I am getting better now,” he said this week. “Ever since the last couple of days at Paris-Nice, I haven’t been quite to full health, but I am getting there. Paris-Nice is a really tough race, hard on the body. It is very early in the season and raced very hard.

“I was happy enough with third on a stage there, although I definitely wanted more out of the race. We did a training camp in Majorca in February and to be honest, I thought I was ready to ride the GC at Paris-Nice, but for some reason I wasn’t. I did have really good form, obviously to get third in the time trial to Martin and Wiggo, but I just couldn’t hold it together on the final days.

“I wanted more out of the race than just doing well on one stage, but when I look back at this time last year, third on a stage in Paris-Nice is a nice result and shows improvement. I hoped to keep building on that but being sick afterwards set me back. I was disappointed with my time trialing at Pais Vasco. It was a good parcours for me, but under the circumstances I guess I have to be happy. We are now in Castilla y Leon and obviously we have Alberto here. We would love to get him to win the race.”

His performance on today’s stage shows that he is working hard towards that goal.

The Australian ride showcased his talent last season with a time trial win in the Tour of Romandie. He then surprised many when he held the race lead in the Giro d’Italia, prior to taking a fine seventh overall plus the white jersey of best young rider. Other strong results followed, including fourth overall in the Eneco Tour, the Tour of Britain and the world time trial championships.

For someone who was in his first season with a ProTour team, having been with the far smaller Praties setup for the two previous years, it was a real revelation and showed that a future star could well be in the making.

Now he’s got to learn more, build all-round strength, and also to settle into the role of one of cycling’s promising talents. He’ll miss this year’s Giro, riding the Tour of California instead, and told VeloNation that part of that is so that he isn’t put under too much pressure too soon.

“It is hard to go to races in your second year with that expectation. You are a marked man, in a lot of ways, and there are a lot of people who look at you to pull out results in every race,” he said. “But you have to pick your battles, I guess, and that is what the team is doing. It takes time to build up.

“After Castilla y Leon, I’ll go home to Monaco for a few days, rather than doing the Ardennes Classics. I’ll relax and then do Romandie. I would love to do really well there, it is where I got my first pro win last year. It is a race that can suit me, and one I pinpointed at the start of the year that I’d like to go well in. Last year I was tenth overall – I was initially eleventh, but moved up a place when Valverde got disqualified.

“Castilla y Leon will be more about riding for Alberto, but it still has a good time trial for me…I can test myself there. I think overall I’m ahead of where I was last year; the watts are up, my weight is down, and I’m happy off the bike as well. Things are going well.”

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- Coming soon: Richie Porte's latest blog for VeloNation -

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