Cycling: Richie Porte, Sky's Plan B, primed for duty

 

Porto Vecchio, Corsica

Stage race wins all season, second in last year's Tour, the absence of Bradley Wiggins, no mishaps in the final build-up to Saturday's start and a team clearly dedicated to getting him to Paris wearing yellow: Chris Froome's status as overwhelming Tour favourite is as solid as ever. But the feeling is growing stronger that Richie Porte, nominally Sky's Plan B, could well be in the frame for a top-three placing in Paris as well.

Porte has always been a general-classification candidate in the making – as shown when he became leader of the Giro d'Italia in his first year as a pro back in 2010 before eventually finishing seventh and picking up the race's Best Young Rider award. Then, after switching to Sky in 2012 and taking the Tour of the Algarve, in the following year the Tasmanian made another big step up by winning Paris-Nice, France's second toughest stage race, and finishing second behind Froome in the Critérium du Dauphiné, the key warm-up event for the Tour.

The former Tour de France pro Charly Wegelius told The Independent that he is certainly impressed. "I said to someone the other day that the miraculous thing about Sky's strength in depth is that they're here without Wiggins, but they've still got two riders they can conceivably get on the final podium," said the Briton, now a sports director with the Garmin-Sharp team but who raced against Porte in the 2010 Giro d'Italia.

"Richie is wise beyond his years as a racer, and he could take a step forward again. And if he's renewed his contract with them" – which he did earlier this year – "then they must have big plans for him in the future."

That future is supposed to see Porte tackle the Giro next year as Sky's leader, but at this year's Tour the official line is that the 28-year-old looks more likely to remain, at least initially, as Froome's key wing-man in the mountains.

Yet Porte's hugely impressive season – which has led a rival like Alberto Contador to say he would be "100 per cent an overall contender in any other team" – would suggest that the Australian may yet be destined for more than a straight support role over the coming three weeks.

"It's nice to be sheltered," Porte said. "Chris has got the pressure, not me, so I'll just take it as it comes."

Asked how he handled being Sky's Plan B, he said: "It's just part of what it is. Last year I won the Tour of the Algarve and that was my opportunity to shine. This year I was thrown in at the deep end and had my opportunities, which you don't get in this team so often [because it has such a wealth of talent]. I always had the talent, but this year it has all just fallen into place."

It seems unlikely, though, that Porte and Froome will end up with a relationship as tense as Froome's and Wiggins'. Porte is a close friend of Froome. Both live in Monaco and train together almost every day. And Porte writes himself out of fighting for yellow unless circumstances change radically. "God forbid that something should happen to Chris, [but if it did] I'll have my opportunities. However it's not part of the plan."

But did he think he could get on the podium during the race he was asked by L'Equipe earlier this week? "It's a dream," he replied. "It depends on the sacrifices I might have to make for Chris."

But Contador, for one, believes that Sky will wait until after the first long individual time trial on stage 11 before reaching a definitive decision on Porte's role.

It could turn out to be bigger than the Australian himself currently imagines.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?