Second’s out, Round 2

by admin on August 20th, 2019

filed under 南京夜网

Rich pickings: Richie Porte leads his former Sky teammates including eventual champion Chris Froome during the Tour de France. Picture: Getty ImagesIN a race with as many variables and uncontrollables as the Tour de France there are always going to be countless what-ifs, if-onlys and damn-that-Team-Skys.
Nanjing Night Net

But from Meander to Monaco and Montmartre, Richie Porte fans the world over will be lamenting that he should have finished second in Paris.

As SBS’s 12-time stage-winner Robbie McEwen pointed out, Porte was undoubtedly the second best rider in the event.

But for the 1 minute 45 seconds the Tasmanian lost to a puncture on stage two, he would have been 33 seconds ahead of the best of the rest.

Instead he finished fifth, his best Grand Tour result, 35 seconds behind Brit Adam Yates in fourth, 56 off Colombian Nairo Quintana and the podium and 72 off the second place of Romain Bardet, the Frenchman whose stage-19 breakaway win was the most decisive move of the final week.

Wherever he may have deserved to finish, Porte’s performance did categorically resolve two issues.

Firstly, it put to bed criticism that he cannot last three-week tours out in front and that his niche was the week-long races like Paris-Nice, Giro del Trentino, Volta a Catalunya and Volta ao Algarve that adorn his palmares.

Secondly, it answered the question of who BMC’s best general classification contender is and hopefully killed off the team’s indecisive policy of joint leadership.

Having also endorsed Porte’s training regime of peaking later in the World Tour season, his impressive display suggests that while he does not lack for legs, what he really needs is another four-lettered ‘l’-word.

Every professional sportsman can point to examples of bad luck, but Porte seems to have so many in his saddlebag that he must have a taken a one-rider detour under a corridor of ladders somewhere early in his Grand Tour career.

When he assumed Sky team leadership in the 2014 Tour he promptly fell ill; when he was team leader at last year’s Giro he was penalised for what race organisers had initially described as a moment of admirable sportsmanship, then promptly crashed within sight of the safety of the neutral cut-off zone; and as one of the favourites in this year’s Tour he first suffered the untimely puncture and then crashed into a motorbike that decided to stop directly in front of him.

While having sympathy for Porte (who celebrated with James Boag), it is impossible not to also toast the one man who beat him beyond any question.

Tour organisers were accused of doctoring the race route in an attempt to hinder the dominance of Chris Froome. The Brit’s response could be understood in many more than the four languages in which he conducts post-race press conferences.

Restricted to just four of the genuine mountain-top finishes he has made his own in recent years, Froome demonstrated his frightening versatility.

As expected, he made time on the ascents, but also on descents (utilising the unorthodox but effective aerodynamic bum-up technique), through cross-winds on the flat and in time trials.

Only prevented from claiming four straight wins by cobblestone crashes in 2014, the Kenyan-born, South African-raised, Britain-representing, Tasmanian-holidayer is without doubt the best rider of his generation (as Porte has long said).

And the class act extends beyond the saddle as can be seen by Froome’s patient and polite succession of interviews moments after the sort of physical exertion the journalists asking the questions could never comprehend.

In previous Tours, Froome has been struck, had urine thrown at him and branded a “dopé” but consistently let his results speak for him.

The constant suspicion of pharmaceutical assistance meant that at one stage the most requested internet search after his name was “Chris Froome drugs”.

Now it is “salary”, “wife” and “running”, the latter pointing to Youtube clips of him using two feet rather than two wheels up Mont Ventoux following the motorbike pile-up (the best of which is speeded up and accompanied by the Benny Hill theme tune).

In admiring Froome, recognition must also be made of his team. The only slight quibble over McEwen’s observation would be that Porte was clearly the second best team leader in the race.

It can only be guessed at how good Froome’s loyal army of support riders, particularly Wout Poels, Sergio Henao and the Welsh wonder Geraint Thomas, would be if they were to follow the same route as Porte and switch teams to pursue their own general classification ambitions.

On the three-week race’s final ascent up the Col de Joux Plane, when every other team of substance was down to just one rider in the yellow jersey group, the yellow jersey himself had no fewer than four teammates for company, and, more importantly, assistance.

When Porte came unstuck on stage two, it cost him 105 seconds and a podium finish, when Froome skidded off on stage 19, he was back underway on Thomas’s bike even before the commentators had noticed.

Porte has another opportunity in the global spotlight next month when he makes his Olympic debut.

He remains in the form of his life, the hilly road race will be like a Tasmanian training ride to him and his support riders will be BMC teammate Rohan Dennis and late call-up Simon Clarke, the man who gave up his own wheel for Porte in last year’s Giro.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Comments are closed.