• Richie Porte in the time trial at the Mars Cycling Australia Road national Championships (Kathryn Watt) (AAP)Source: AAP
Richie Porte and BMC teammate Rohan Dennis are two of the favourites for the men's road race at the Australian championships.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
AAP
9 Jan 2016 - 7:18 AM 

Cycling star Richie Porte hopes to be the captain of chaos in the men's elite road race at the Australian championships.

But the two-time bronze medallist admits his dream scenario on Sunday will be a long shot as the powerful Orica-GreenEDGE team try to control the race for as long as possible.

As always, Australia's only WorldTour team will have the weight of numbers, with Orica-GreenEDGE boasting nine starters on the undulating circuit at Buninyong, near Ballarat.

Two-time winner Simon Gerrans is the No.1 hope as he tries to put last year's nightmare season behind him.

New star Caleb Ewan is a handy back-up after his surprise second place last year at Buninyong.

Porte and new BMC teammate Rohan Dennis by contrast are a two-man combination.

But Porte showed on Thursday in the nationals time trial that regardless of his low-key build-up to the season, he is a formidable talent.

Dennis won the time trial and Porte was runner-up, confirming they are among the road race favourites.

Porte said his best hope is that an attack about 30km from the finish shatters Orica-GreenEDGE's control and he is in the decisive move.

"If it went absolutely bananas probably three laps out, that's good for me," Porte said.

"But I don't really see there's any team that can do that.

"Certainly I don't expect Rohan to come and do that."

Porte predictably was playing his cards close to the chest on Friday.

One minute he was playing down his chances and the next saying a decisive attack up the Buninyong climb was not impossible.

Porte clearly has a different mindset to a year ago, when he arrived in Ballarat determined to start the season well.

Like Gerrans this time, Porte had a point to prove then after a series of setbacks through 2014.

Porte was in WorldTour form 12 months ago - he won the time trial and went on to finish second behind Dennis at Adelaide's Tour Down Under.

Having moved from Sky to BMC, his focus this year is to be at his peak in July for the Tour de France - not in January.

"Rohan and myself, it's probably the strongest team that I've lined up with, even though it's a two-man show," Porte said of Sunday.

"Of course it would be nice to wear the (Australian champion's) jersey in Europe.

"But to be honest, you don't really care, do you, when you get to later in the season.

"With how relaxed my start has been, I'm not expecting to do much on Sunday."

Porte is determined to prove himself as a Tour de France contender this year after his hopes unravelled last year at the Giro d'Italia.

"It is very motivating that July, you know that's when you hit your top peak, instead for me it's been March through April when I've been absolutely flying," he said.

"Obviously the Giro was a disaster for me last year and it's motivation."