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Porte keeps Tour in focus after Sky squeeze at Dauphine

Richie Porte dropped from second to fourth after three Sky riders outmaneuvered him when he attacked in Sunday's final stage.

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MILAN (VN) — Richie Porte lost his podium spot in the Critérium du Dauphiné on Sunday, slipping from second to fourth overall, but the Australian is satisfied with his form as he rolls toward the Tour de France with BMC Racing.

Former teammate Chris Froome and two other Sky cyclists squeezed Porte to the barriers as he was attacking Sunday in southeast France. At the same time, Daniel Martin of Etixx – Quick-Step and Romain Bardet of Ag2r La Mondiale attacked and pulled away by five seconds. With bonus seconds, Bardet moved from third to second overall and Martin went from fourth to third. Froome won the overall title for a third time.

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“I found myself almost in the barriers and had to stop, and that’s when the group went and that’s when my podium was lost,” explained Porte. “It’s just one of those things. I was there all week and today I had a much better day, so it’s just a shame to finish on such a bad note. But I think it will keep me hungry for July.

“I thought I may have still finished third. To almost crash in the last 500 meters of the whole race is a disappointing way to end a fantastic week. It’s just a racing incident. Everyone’s on the limit and it’s just one of those things that happen.”

After the race, Porte packed his bags and headed to BMC Racing’s base in the French Alps for the next week. He will have time to think about the Critérium du Dauphiné and build up a proper hunger while the team trains and previews some of the Tour stages. On tap are the Tour’s final mountain stages to Finhaut-Emosson, Saint-Gervais, and Morzine, and the Megève mountain time trial.

BMC signed Porte over the winter after he spent years working for Froome and Bradley Wiggins on Sky and for Alberto Contador on Tinkoff – Saxo. The 31-year-old Porte and American Tejay van Garderen will lead BMC’s two-pronged attack.

If the Dauphiné is anything to go by, Porte should be contending for a podium spot in France’s three-week stage race from July 2-24. When Froome attacked to win the Vaujany stage Friday and take the race overall, only Porte could follow. They left several Tour contenders behind, including Contador, Fabio Aru (Astana), Romain Bardet (Ag2r), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), and Pierre Rolland (Cannondale).

Porte only suffered in the queen stage Saturday and missed the split Sunday after the Sky squeeze.

“His performance here was very good,” BMC sport director Valerio Piva said. “He was again at the top level [Sunday], he was there all day, jumping in the move with Froome, Contador and Bardet. We are disappointed [about losing the podium spot], but we are also really happy to be here with a strong leader and a team that worked really well together.

“Richie’s condition is good. He didn’t have the best day [Saturday] but recovered well to come back good today, which is a great sign for the Tour de France.”

Porte added, “I’m quite happy with the form and the way things are lining up for July.”