• Retired Cadel Evans is working as an ambassador for BMC (Sirotti Images)
Australia's single Grand Tour champion Cadel Evans was saddened by the level of support compatriot Richie Porte received from Team Sky during a nightmare Giro d’Italia title campaign last month.
By
Sophie Smith

4 Jun 2015 - 7:30 AM 

Porte is following in the footsteps of Evans as an Aussie Grand Tour contender but abandoned his title bid after a series of set-backs, which began with a two-minute time penalty for illegal assistance from a rival rider in stage 10.

Evans alluded to the incident that at the time raised questions as to why countryman Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) - and not Sky team-mates – was first there to help with a wheel change Porte was penalised for and consequently plummeted third to 12th overall.

“In terms of allowing things to become as unstuck as they did in the Giro, if I was Richie I would have been pretty disappointed,” the 2011 Tour de France champion Evans told Cycling Central from the race that Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) won on Sunday.

“I was a bit disappointed by his team to be honest, and the fact that he was isolated there. If you want to win a Grand Tour, there is so much that can go wrong, you can’t leave these margins for error. I was a bit surprised by his team in this regard.

“It’s not easy to minimise all the things that can go wrong and that’s where having a good team around you is very, very important - not just on the road but behind the scenes –  and then when something does go wrong be able to overcome that and make-up the bad luck,” he later added.

Porte was more than 30 minutes down in the general classification when he abandoned the Giro on the second rest day, citing injuries sustained from a Stage 13 crash, which inhibited his performance the following two days including a 59.4km time trial he had studied and saw pivotal to race leadership.

The Tasmanian, who has previously been a key support to Sky team-mate Chris Froome and Contador, earned leadership and race favourite status on the back of nine victories partly stemming from a heavily regimented training and nutrition program instigated in the off-season.  

“He’s had an opportunity to be a leader before and found himself in a leader position but to be considered a contender that’s not easy to deal with, that’s a steep learning curve,” Evans said. “To go in with the opportunity to be a leader but without those expectations I think would probably be favourable to his performance. I don’t know him well enough personally to be able to make a judgement on his mentality but from the outside I think that would help him.”

Porte’s limited experience as a Grand Tour leader at two editions of the Giro, and inadvertently at the Tour de France last year after Froome crashed out, pale in comparison to some of his rivals including Contador, who won his first pink jersey two years before Porte graduated from domestic racing to the WorldTour.  

“The really good three-week riders from a young age are consistently good. Contador, for example, he won the Tour de France in the young rider’s jersey,” Evans said. “They can perform under pressure, they can perform in all variety of conditions, on all variety of courses, so they’re tested and they have to be very versatile riders.

“Richie’s had a few opportunities to prove himself and he’s been really good but he hasn’t been consistent. You have to be consistently good to be a Grand Tour rider, and not just consistently good but consistently with the best guys every day of the race.

“Physically he has the characteristics to do it … when he has an off-day it’s obvious which his off-day is.”

Team Sky, despite the conjecture about support at the Giro, has in recent years set the standard in three-week racing, winning consecutive Tour de France titles with Bradley Wiggins (2012) and Froome (2013).

Porte is set to again support the latter in another yellow jersey campaign next month. The British squad will be up against it again with Contador, who will fight for a third consecutive Grand Tour title having won the Giro as well as last year’s Vuelta a Espana.

“I think for (Porte) he made the right decision (to leave the Giro),” said Evans. “He wasn’t in contention so he’s better to go out, freshen up and then start again for the Tour. He’s going to come away mentally much more recharged, probably even a little bit hungrier than he would have otherwise done going towards the Tour.”

Evans is set to be at the Grand Depart in Utrecht, Netherlands on 4 July as an ambassador for bike manufacturer BMC, which sponsors the WorldTour racing team he concluded his professional career with in February.

@SophieSmith86

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