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Porte racing Tour with ‘a lot less pressure’ after springtime setbacks

After a string of springtime illnesses, Richie Porte says he feels no pressure at this year's Tour de France

BRUSSELS (VN) — With the pressure off, Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) is aiming for the Tour de France podium’s top step when the race kicks off on Saturday.

After a disastrous early season, which saw him battle through various illnesses, Porte says he is free from the pressure of being labeled a favorite to win the Tour.

“I must admit, I haven’t had the season I wanted to have so far, so to go into the Tour under a lot less pressure than the last few years is not a bad thing,” Porte said.

“It hasn’t been a slower start to the season because I wanted it that way. My race program had to change a few times because I just kept getting sick, but it’s nice to turn up in July and not on fumes and trying to eke out the last bit of form that I have, which has happened to me in the last few years.

“I’m here under no pressure from the team other than to take it one day at a time and see how it goes. I think the last three stages in the Alps are were it’s going to be decided anyhow. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to to come in a little under done.”

Porte enters the Tour after two consecutive disappointing campaigns. In both 2018 and 2017 he abandoned on the ninth stage of the Tour due to injuries sustained in separate crashes.

After racing for Saxo Bank, Sky and the last three seasons, with Team BMC Racing, Porte will lead Trek-Segafredo over the three weeks.

Back in 2016, he placed fifth overall racing with Team BMC Racing. In 2017, he crashed on a descent and in 2018, ahead of the Roubaix cobbles. He had to end his Tour only nine days in.

Porte is a late bloomer, though, first coming to the fore when he wore the pink jersey and won the youth classification in the 2010 Giro d’Italia. Porte is now 34 years old. If he were to win the Tour, he would tie Cadel Evans as  the oldest Tour victor since before the Second World War.

“I think the unlucky moments, there’s not much you can do about that, but Cadel was 34 when he won it,” Porte said. Evans won the 2011 Tour.

“I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘I’m going to win the Tour’. I want to have a good ride, not have any crap happen in the next three weeks. That’d be nice. And just do my best race.”

Porte won the Willunga Hill stage of the Tour Down Under in January. Since, he has been adjusting his schedule due to some sicknesses and with an eye on the many mountain stages of the 2019 Tour.

“This year I’ve probably done more altitude than I have ever done in my life. I’ve been to Sierra Nevada, Utah and Isola 2000 just before here,” he added.

“We looked at the [Tour mountain] stages the two days after the Dauphiné. It wasn’t the easiest recon when you come out of a race tired, but those stages are always going to be hard especially on the end of three weeks of racing.

“The GC will be pretty set by then but you don’t want to have a bad day and also it’s going to be hard for one team to control those days.”