But next year, the likeable Australian is going to tackle a Grand Tour for
the first time as a team leader.
And the 28-year-old says he is ready for the new challenge and looking
forward to leading Team Sky’s push for glory at the 2014 Giro D’Italia.
“Obviously the big goal for me next year is the Giro. I haven’t really sat
down and talked to the team about it but I think it’s the next step for me,”
he said during a publicity event in Saitama near Tokyo on Friday.
“They want to develop me into a Grand Tour racer and that’s hopefully going
to be my first big opportunity to lead a team.
“I’d like to start the Tour Down Under, then Paris-Nice, I’d like to go
back and defend that too.
“But come July I want to be there in England for the start (of the Tour de
France). I do think I can do a good Giro and come out and be good in the
mountains and help Chris (Froome) there.”
Even as he looks to embark on the next step in his own professional growth
and development, though, in the back of his mind he still has to concentrate
on his domestique role for the current Tour champion.
That was a role that Rigoberto Uran got tired of as he decided to leave Sky
at the end of this year and take his chances elsewhere, hoping to lead Omega
Pharma-Quick Step at the Tour next year.
And Porte admits that should he ever have Tour ambitions, it probably won’t
be at Sky that he would be able to realise them.
“Probably not the biggest things but at the same time I’ve signed for two
more years in Sky. I’ve just had the best season of my life, it’s the team
that’s the top for GC riding, it’s where I learnt how to ride.
“Who knows what the future’s going to hold but for now I’m really excited
for those two more years.”
As for next year’s Tour, Porte doesn’t believe there is anyone out there
who could strip the title from his team-mate Froome, despite a route that has
only one time-trial in the penultimate stage and five mountain-top finishes
that would suit small, light riders such as the two podium finishers alongside
Froome this year, Nairo Quintana and Joaquim Rodriguez.
“To be honest, they’re playing catch-up. They can’t out-climb him, they
can’t out-time-trial him,” said Porte.
“Maybe there’s cobbles but Chris is also a much better bike handler than
people give him credit for and he’s also going to have a much stronger team
than he did this year.”
Although Porte finished down in 19th place at the Tour, it was mostly due
to a single bad day on stage nine when he dropped out of the front group and
then, after a futile chase, opted to conserve energy for later challenges,
losing 10 minutes in the process.
But otherwise he was able to ride with the leading climbers in the
mountains and even take time out of most of them, apart from Froome, in the
“I showed that I (can compete with the best), I dropped some of these guys
when I was doing the job (of a domestique),” added Porte.
“It’s a shame I lost all that time when I did but when you’re in a team you
know your role, that’s what you have to do but I took a bit of confidence out
of the Tour this year as well.”