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Richie Porte: Geraint Thomas is ‘clear favourite’ to win Tour de France

Joe Robinson
4 Jul 2019

Australian hopes to bury omens of the past but is coy about chances of yellow

Trek-Segafredo’s Tour de France yellow jersey hope Richie Porte believes that Geraint Thomas is the ‘clear favourite’ for the overall title despite his lack of notable results this season.

The Australian spoke at his team's press conference in Brussels ahead of the Grand Depart and underlined Team Ineos’s Thomas as the man to beat, especially in the absence of four-time champion Chris Froome.

While Thomas is yet to take a victory in 2019 and recently crashed out of the Tour de Suisse, the fact he enters the race as defending champion and as leader of the team that has taken six of the last seven Tours is enough to make the Welshman bookmakers' favourite and Porte’s pick, too.

‘I think Geraint Thomas is a clear favourite,' Porte said of his former teammate. 'He won it last year and is in better shape now. It’s a shame that Chirs Froome is not here but it will change everything and they will back Thomas, he has to be out-and-out favourite with Ineos.'

As for his own opportunities, Porte was much less forthright in his opinions. Previous years would have seen the Australian tipped as one of the favourites to take the title but with an early season blighted with illness, he will enter Stage 1 in Brussels under the radar.

‘I must admit it hasn’t been the season I wanted but going into the Tour with less pressure than past years is not a bad thing. My form's good, I just need to stay healthy,’ said Porte.

‘My race programme changed but I kept getting sick so I didn’t race as much but, it is nice turning up in July not racing on fumes, eeking out the last bit of energy.’

Porte has only bagged the one victory in 2019, Stage 6 to Willunga Hill at the Tour Down Under, and failed to break the top 10 at the Criterium du Dauphine - finishing 11th overall - yet with a reduced race schedule he's been able to focus on some of the Tour’s key stages.

A recent team training camp after the Dauphine to Isola 2000 allowed Porte to assess the Alpine stages in the last week of this year’s race.

With multiple ascents above 2,000m, an ability to perform at altitude is vital for anybody harbouring ambitions of taking yellow and is the reason to why the Australian has focused on training in thinner air this year.

‘The last three stages in the Alps is where it will be decided, they will be definitive,’ said Porte. ‘This year I have done more altitude than ever done in my life, I went to Sierra Nevada, Utah and Isola 2,000. We looked at the stages two days after the Dauphine so it wasn’t the easiest recons because you come out tired.

'Those days will be hard after three weeks. To be honest, I think the GC will be set by then but you certainly don’t want a bad day in those stages and it’ll be hard for one team to control it.’

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