Tour Guide Flashback – Saxo Bank Team Pages (2011)
RIDE Media has produced the official Tour de France Guide (Australian edition) since 2003. The 2012 edition will be on sale mid-June. During the production period, we will be looking back at certain features from over the years.
In this flashback we look at the commentary on the Saxo Bank team from the 2011 Tour preview.
Flashback: 2011 – Saxo Bank Team Pages
Contador leader or absent? Porte, a most useful option!
Speaking to Richie Porte on the eve of the Giro d’Italia there was a degree of hesitation when asked who he thought the nine men for the Tour de France would be. “Obviously who they are is quite dependent on one guy – we all know who I’m talking about. But we’ve got guys like Gustav Larssen in there… and I’ve got the free card for general classification. If that doesn’t work, then we’re going to have guys there who can target stage wins. Chris Anker Sörensen wants to go for the polka-dot jersey so we’re going to have a good versatile team which most teams do go to the Tour with.”
Alberto Contador has won this race three times. However, at the time of writing, one of those was in doubt because of a positive control taken on the second rest day of 2010. Should he go, he’s the absolute favourite of favourites to win. What he did in the Giro d’Italia was phenomenal! It was utterly dominant and must frighten anyone who considers taking on a 28-year-old who is in perfect condition.
It depends on a court ruling, and so it must be hard for the team to adjust. So you’d think, but Porte doesn’t see it that way. “To be honest, in the team the mood is still upbeat. We had a lot of good guys leave last year but it’s still a really good, happy team. In some ways it’s happier than what it was. Maybe there’s a cloud of uncertainty over us, but hey, it was exactly the same last year when we lost most of the team.
“It’s a team that just works. Bjarne has rebuilt the team that many times that we’re just rolling with the punches.”
The Giro hadn’t been on the original agenda for Porte… and some say the same for Contador. But what had been called “the hardest Grand Tour in 20 years” allowed Alberto to show off all that he is: an amazing bike rider! He was the best, but we cannot say: without a shadow of doubt. If his performance was enhanced in Italy, it would be completely stupid. That’s not the question, which actually was: would the title still be his should he later be suspended? This is one of the many quandaries that exist in the sport today. We want to avoid retrospective results by stopping the false ones from being a momentary reality. But while the CAS was deliberating, Alberto was racing!
This is a team full of talent. Bjarne Riis has options and he’d like it to be the best bike rider in the world. If it’s not, then it’s likely that Richie Porte will take on a leadership role… for GC. It’s a big ask for a rider making a Tour debut but he seems ready. “The plan is to go and follow wheels at the Tour. It’s not that much pressure. I’ll just see where I can get to. In some ways, the Giro is not the best preparation but I do need hard racing in my legs. I’m not scared. I’ve got a lot of time to ride the Tour and I’m still developing. I’m not losing sleep over it.”
by Rob Arnold