Trek-Segafredo leaders Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema are ready to get ahead of what they predict will be the toughest Tour de France in years.
With two teams dominating the peloton, riders maximally motivated after months of absence from racing, and a course booked by weeks of opening and closing of attrition, Porte and Mollema just hope to stay in the running for the first few weeks. difficult in the hope of saving time. in the last relentless stages across the Alps.
Porte, who will make his tenth start of the Tour on Saturday, fought bravely at the Criterium du Dauphiné earlier this month as Jumbo-Visma and Team Ineos Grenadiers launched hawks at the front of the climbing action .
“It’s not for us to race,” Porte said at a team press conference on Friday. “If anything, at the Dauphiné, it showed that if you can follow Jumbo-Visma or Ineos when they set the pace on the climbs and avoid trouble in those first stages, then you can get to that third week where that is really happening. to be like a death march towards Paris.
“This past week, the stages are so brutally hard, the race is not over before Paris,” said Porte.
The Australian has always been in contention but never a threat in a high octane Dauphiné which he compared to “five consecutive one-day races”. With this year’s Tour going uphill from Stages 2 and 4, the 35-year-old is aware that riders need to be on red alert from day one to stay in the overall standings.
“There is never a chance to relax in the Tour,” he said. “Especially the first week, where it’s a disaster if you waste seconds – and it’s going to take a few minutes last week.”
Porte knows very well what it feels like to be at the back of the Tour de France before the action even reaches the decisive final week of racing, losing last year more than a minute in the first extra minute step and hemorrhage in a chaotic. Crosswind stage in Albi on stage 10.
Like Porte, co-leader Bauke Mollema begins his tenth Tour on Saturday. The experienced duo are particularly wary of the final round of the race stages, which includes three high mountain stages, a grippy rolling stage and a five-day mountain time trial.
“The differences are going to be quite big this year at the end, especially with this course… last week will be brutal,” said Mollema. “Last year the GC result had four guys in less than two minutes in Paris. I don’t think it will be this year. The gaps will be much bigger than that. ”
With the race set to reach such a climax, Porte and Mollema are just hoping to hang on for as long as possible to pounce on the cracks of the favorites under pressure. They just have the small matter of two weeks of turning the screw through Ineos and Jumbo-Visma to go first.