FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Richie Porte (BMC Racing) will be out for revenge in the Tour de France this July.
After losing the yellow jersey in Sunday’s final Critérium du Dauphiné stage, the Australian questioned the riding style of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Chris Froome (Sky).
“I have a favor to repay to some people,” he said.
His rivals attacked and isolated him in the hot and sticky Alps. He clawed back enough time on most, but could not limit Jakob Fuglsang’s gains.
Fuglsang, Astana’s Danish leader, began the day 1:15 behind Porte. He gained just that on Porte, who ultimately finished 1:15 behind in seventh place. With help from the 10-second victory time bonus, Fuglsang took the prestigious French stage race victory.
“It’s bitterly disappointing to lose it by such a small margin. Credit to Jakob because he was brilliant today,” Porte added.
“I think I was up against it from kilometer zero. There were a few guys who preferred me to lose the race, and they lost their podium as well. I guess that’s racing. Bring on July.”
Porte may have an axe to grind with his former teammate Froome and Spaniard Valverde when the Tour de France starts in Düsseldorf on July 1.
They took turns attacking the race leader with other rivals. Froome attacked early and again near the top of the Col de la Colombière. However, Porte clawed him and others back on the Plateau de Solaison finishing climb. Froome slipped from second to fourth overall.
“I went into the red a little bit before [Froome’s attack],” Porte said. “He sat on my wheel for a fair bit then hit me over the top. That’s part of racing. I could’ve gone down with a couple more teammates. That would’ve helped.
“Valverde and Froome obviously didn’t want to see me win the race. That’s racing, but you don’t forget that for July.”
Porte supported Bradley Wiggins and Froome to three Tour titles. Ahead of the 2016 season, he left the team to lead BMC. Last year, despite losing precious time to a puncture in stage 2, he rode to fifth overall in the Tour.
This year, Porte appears to be Froome’s top Tour challenger thanks to overall wins in the Santos Tour Down Under and the Tour de Romandie, and a mostly dominate performance in the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Froome, who has yet to win this season, took note of his former helper and gave him the “favorite” label for the Tour.
“I’d still say Riche was the strongest man in the race,” Froome said Sunday. “He and his team got caught out tactically today, but I still say he’s the favorite for July and the strongest rider in the peloton at this point.”