The 36-year-old is coming to the Tour for the British squad for the first time since 2015 and, after a brilliant victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné, appears to be in the best shape of his life.Moreover, after last year’s podium in Paris with Trek-Segafredo, the Australian will line up in Brest knowing he can compete with the best.
“As it stands now, I know why I came back to the team and it’s to help someone like Richard, Geraint or Tao Geoghegan Hart but, in the end, if I’m there or little close and make it work for us to have guys on GC so our rivals can’t let me go at sunset, ”Porte said. Cyclismenews as he lined up for his first pre-race test for COVID-19 on Wednesday.
“Geraint, Tao and Carapaz are the ones who have the tracks to finish the Grand Tour victories, but you never know what’s going to happen. We have to go through the first nine steps and then go from there. He added, perhaps with a memory of the two Towers he collapsed in during stage 9.
Porte knows that Ineos Grenadiers’ main strength in this year’s race will be their collective depth, with an eight-man squad that has three Grand Tour winners. First and second in the race last year, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) present themselves as the men to beat and the two biggest favorites, but the consensus seems to be that Ineos has the potential to isolate their two Slovenian rivals the first week and then in the mountains.
Depending on the opening of the race, a Fit Gate could benefit from such a scenario.
“Of course, last year I was on the podium. I know I was minutes away from the other guys, but there’s a possibility I could be a playing card, ”Porte said.
“At the same time, I’m happy to be there and to help the team win. “
Ahead of last year’s Tour de France, it really looked like Porte’s top-level career was on the wane. Bad luck and illness had ruined his 2019 campaign, but in the Tour the following year, without pressure, he achieved his best result in a Grand Tour.
A return to Ineos followed and, despite a jump in Paris-Nice at the start of the year, he returned to his best level in one-week stage races.
“I never thought in my wildest imagination that I could be second in Catalonia, then do the same in Romandie and finally tick a box at the Dauphiné,” he said. Cyclismenews.
“It was absolutely amazing and it’s just nice to be back on this team and to win more bike races at 36 years old. I didn’t expect it to be fair and my last win in Europe was probably the Tour de Suisse in 2018 and I’m kind to think that this would be my last European win so taking the Dauphiné was very unexpected. “
Porte attributes his turnaround to the environment at Ineos and, while he does not regret leaving the team in 2016 to pursue his own ambitions, he is well aware that at Ineos he is only one of the runners capable of performing in stage races and Grand Visits.
“I think it’s when you come into a team like this and it’s so focused. They have the numbers there and maybe not all the stress and pressure on my shoulders. There are other guys, like Geraint is the big leader here, so being a bit in the shadows suits me very well, ”he said.
“I had to go and do this. I do not regret it. I rode with BMC, which was a fantastic team, and really enjoyed my time at Trek Segafredo but had to do it, not just from a financial point of view but to have my own opportunities. I understand that there are guys in the team who are better and I was always going to be a little lower in the pecking order but it was the right choice.
“I also think coming back was the right decision as well. It has been an incredible journey but here on the Tour I would like to be part of a winning team. I know it won’t be easy with the Slovenians, but we have strength in numbers. This is one of our strengths. ”