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Aussie Richie Porte is joining his Team Sky teammates this week on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca as the team regroups ahead of the 2014 season.
For Porte, who enjoyed a breakout season with victory at Paris-Nice, next season presents new challenges, with Sky cutting him loose for a run at the Giro d’Italia.
“The Giro is my big goal next year, then I’d love to go back to the Tour and ride in a similar support role for Chris (Froome),” Porte told VeloNews via telephone. “I did the Giro-Tour double in 2011, and I know it’s not easy.”
Porte said he would be sitting down with Sky coaches and staffers this week to plot a roadmap for the 2014 season. So far, his only confirmed race dates are a season debut at the Santos Tour Down Under (January 19-26) and the 97th Giro (May 9-June 1).
Porte is no stranger to riding two grand tours in one season, but it’s one thing to ride in support, and something quite different to race for the overall.
“At the moment that’s the plan,” Porte said. “A grand tour is a grand tour. I know it’s not just physically hard, but it’s mentally hard, as well. I hope to have a good Giro and be back in the Tour for the third year in a row.”
Following his triumphant 2013 season, which included an overall victory at Paris-Nice, and also saw Porte ride to second overall at Critérium International, Tour of the Basque Country, and Critérium du Dauphiné, Porte has earned the trust of Sky brass, and they will set him up for a run at the Giro.
“I had the best season of my career. Winning Paris-Nice and then being part of the winning Tour de France team for the second year in a row, well, it’s a privilege,” he continued. “To be part of what’s happened with the team the past two seasons has been just incredible.”
For 2014, he’s taking aim at the maglia rosa, returning to the grand tour where he made his impressive debut in 2010 when he wore the pink jersey and rode to seventh overall. This time, his aim will be for outright victory.
He also expects he will back to the Tour, where he hopes to help Froome win his second straight yellow jersey and be part of Team Sky’s third consecutive Tour-winning squad.
That ambitious calendar is payback for his ever-growing confidence and ability to deliver results.
“It was more just having the opportunity to ride for myself and having a chance to show it,” Porte said. “The team had confidence in me, and gave me a chance at races like Paris-Nice and Vuelta al País Vasco [where Porte was second to Nairo Quintana.] It’s one thing to get that chance, but there’s quite a bit of stress that comes with that. I was happy it paid off, for me and the team.”
Porte, who is under contract with Team Sky through 2015, also downplayed comments made to an Australian newspaper last week that were picked up by various websites.
“The thing is if I want to ride for Tour for myself one day, I don’t see that happening at Sky, but that doesn’t mean that I am unhappy at Sky,” he said. “I never said I want to leave Sky after 2015. This is the best team for me right now.”
- 2012 Niner Rip9 Raw Large
-Stem (length/rise): GT 90mm
-Seatpost: Stock Niner
-Handlebar: Stock Niner 710mm
-Rear Shock: Stock RP23
-Fork: Rockshox Revelation RCT3 140mm
-Brakes: Shimano SLX
-Drivetrain Setup: XX1
-Tires: Tubeless Tioga Psycho Genius
-Wheels: Stans Flow EX w/DT Swiss 350 hubs
-Rear Axle: 142x12 Maxle
-Pedals: Spank Spike plattforms - red
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Editor’s Note: This video is courtesy of Global Cycling Network. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily represent the opinions of VeloNews.com, Velo magazine or the editors and staff of Competitor Group, Inc.
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The next big thing was finally just the big thing, physically and on the results sheets.
In 2013, German Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) made good on all the hype and on his physical gifts, taking four Tour de France stages from the best sprinters in the world — including Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who had a full compliment of riders at his disposal.
But it was Kittel who was the sprint class of the Tour, even wearing the yellow jersey for a day after winning stage 1 in Corsica. It came in sharp relief to just a year prior when, at the Amgen Tour of California, the strapping German (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) couldn’t haul himself over the climbs to contend for a sprint. All told, he racked up 16 victories (including stages at the Tour of Oman and Paris-Nice). The Tour, though, has captivated him, like sprint greats who came before. His goals are the same, but his expectations are pragmatic.
“It’s the same like in 2013. I’ll just try to have a good year again. It sounds simple,” he told VeloNews. “I just want to have a good start in the new season, and I’m looking forward to the Tour as a highlight again. Which races I will do on my way to the Tour is not sure yet. We of course talked already about it, but I think I can say I’m open to new experiences also when it comes to other races.”
Kittel said he hopes to race at the tours of Qatar and Oman, but wasn’t sure of his pre-Tour plans just yet.
It was clear the 25-year-old enjoyed his Tour, winning both the first and last stages in addition to stages 10 and 12. And while the dream is to go back to France for another victory lap, that’s something Kittel doesn’t think he should plan on.
“I think it was a very special year and to expect directly that you can repeat it like that the next year, I think that’s a bit over the top. And it also gives you pressure, which is not necessary,” Kittel said. “My personal goal for next year is just to go again for a stage win at the Tour de France, and to finish the Tour.”
He showed last season he has ample finishing power — there’s really no other way to describe his sprint — and his tactical acumen was progressing, along with the strength of his team, which seems to ride with something of a Musketeer mentality as it fights for one another at every turn. So while he says one stage may be enough for him, the expectations around him are gaining weight. Will he have to be better than this year to achieve the same results? Maybe. But his manager Iwan Spekenbrink believes Kittel can be.
“I believe Marcel can continue to improve. You have to remember that he was being developed as a time trial specialist as a junior and U-23. He was not a pure sprinter, but he’s a gifted athlete,” Spekenbrink said. “When he came to us, we made some tests, and we saw his biggest potential was to do well in the sprints. He hasn’t been focusing for so long in sprints, but you can see how far he has come. We believe he can be even better with more experience.”
That’s a scary thought, no? The thought that Kittel hasn’t peaked. Cavendish will certainly be looking over his shoulder after last year’s Tour, — or perhaps he will have to look in front of him — but Kittel is watching Cav as well. The Manxman is assured to come back stronger after what only Cavendish could consider a bit of a down season, given his past dominance in July.
“He will be busy during the winter to prepare for the new season and maybe to change something. If he just looks to the new teammates that he gets — Mark Renshaw. That’s a good step,” Kittel said of his rival. “They showed already once that they are a good team, and we, other sprinter teams, definitely have to take care for that new, new/old combination next season. I’m curious what will happen next year.”
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