Richie Porte on path to becoming Grand Tour contender for Sky
Chris Froome and Richie Porte, Criterium du Dauphine 2013, stage eight
Richie Porte is patiently waiting in the wings to become Sky's next Grand Tour contender. He is dedicated to Froome in this year's Tour de France, starting Saturday in Corsica, and wants to take his opportunities next year.
"It's just part of it," Porte said yesterday of working tirelessly for his leader. "Maybe next year, I don't go to the Tour de France, but I go to the Giro d'Italia and have an opportunity there."
Porte last year helped Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France and this year, saw to Froome's stage race victories in the Tour of Oman, Critérium International, Tour of Romandy and Critérium du Dauphiné.
Along the way, Sky has given the 28-year-old Tasmanian his own opportunities. He won the Tour of Algarve last year and Paris-Nice this year.
"I'm always going to get opportunities," Porte said. "Anyway I look at it, I don't think it's a bad result winning Paris-Nice, the season's already been a big success for me."
With Wiggins at home, Porte is Sky's most important GC rider behind Froome at the Tour.
"The second best rider in such a good team," he said. "God forbid something should happen to Chris."
Porte rode shotgun to most of Froome's wins. In Critérium International and Dauphiné, he placed second overall and showed just as capable of winning the race on his own.
Sky's top brass believes it is in a much stronger position with multiple GC men, this way if they do lose their star - as was the case when Wiggins crashed in the 2011 Tour - they have reserves.
Porte, at the minimum, stands to have a chance of finishing on the podium if he plays his part. He would be only the second Australian to place on the podium along with 2011 overall winner, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
He has enjoyed a fast track to GC stardom. In his first Grand Tour, he wore the pink jersey in the Giro d'Italia. His biggest gains, though, came riding in team Sky and helping Wiggins and Froome. As he said, being "in the deep end."
"Last year, I won Algarve, that was my opportunity to shine and win. This year, I've been thrown into the deep end, helping Froome and having my chances," Porte added.
"I thought I always had the talent, without sounding too cocky, and then it just fell into place this year."