Richie Porte: Team Sky are ‘playing games’ when they say I’m the Tour de France favourite
Porte says that behind the scenes Sky will be thinking that Froome will win yellow
Speaking at a pre-race press conference, Porte suggested that his good friend Froome and the rest of Team Sky might not be being entirely honest when they labelled him as the man to beat after he finished second at the Critérium du Dauphiné.
“Sky saying that I’m the favourite is just one of the games that they like to play,” said the 32-year-old, who spent four seasons at Team Sky between 2012 and 2015.
“Behind closed doors they think Chris is the guy who will win. He’s the defending champion and he’s the one with the big target on his back.”
In contrast with Froome, who is yet to win a race in 2017, Porte has enjoyed a successful build up to the Tour de France, winning the Tour de Romandie and finishing second at the Dauphiné after losing time to Jakob Fuglsang in an aggressive final stage.
The Australian said he had learned a lot from that race, where he missed out on yellow by 10 seconds after being dropped in aggressive racing early in the stage, but said that he hoped there would be no repeat of that experience come the Tour.
“Mistakes like at the Dauphiné are part of bike racing. We were incredible the day before on Alpe d’Huez, and it’s a shame the race panned out like it did.
“You learn from experiences like that, and I’ve learned that when people gang up on you it’s going to make for hard racing. Hopefully nothing like that happens again, but the Tour’s a different race – there’s always someone interested in going for it.”
Porte, who has signed a new contract to keep him at BMC Racing for at least another season, also hoped that his time in yellow at the Dauphiné would stand him in good stead for the off-the-bike aspects of the Tour.
“The Dauphiné gave me a taste of wearing the leader’s jersey and everything that goes with it,” he continued.
“You have to do all the anti-doping stuff and the media protocol, and it does take a bit away from your recovery each day. But it’s manageable, and I’ve got a great team around me to help me deal with that.”
That team, which includes another former Team Sky rider in Nicolas Roche and Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet, is, according to BMC general manager Jim Ochowicz, the same nine rider who were originally selected in a provisional Tour team at a pre-season training camp in December.
Van Avermaet will be given the opportunity to chase stage wins, but the rest of the team will be solely dedicated to looking after Porte, with Roche saying that the BMC line-up was “at least as strong as Sky” whereas in previous Tours the British team were “by far the best”.