• Australian Richie Porte has claimed the overall leader's jersey in the Criterium du Dauphine. (AAP) (GodingImages)Source: GodingImages
Nine Australians are set to start the 2017 Tour de France in Dusseldorf on Saturday. Richie Porte is Australia's best chance of winning the Tour de France since Cadel Evans' victory in 2011. But what do you really know about he and the other eight riders?
By
Rachel de Bear

Source:
Cycling Central
30 Jun 2017 - 7:48 AM  UPDATED 7 Jul 2017 - 3:06 PM

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Richie Porte will start the Tour de France this Saturday in Dusseldorf as one of the main favourites to wear the yellow jersey in Paris. 

So, does that mean the eight other Aussies who'll also take the start aren't really that good? No way. They've all got their jobs to do, and they do them darn well. 

We look at all nine Australian riders and their roles so you can sound like you know what you're talking about when you jump on board the Tour de France bandwagon. 

Bluffer's Guide to the Tour de France
Don't know the peloton from an echelon? Just hearing about this Richie Porte chap and wondering what all the fuss is about? Want to break into the water-cooler conversation about the lycra-clad lads cycling around France? We've got you covered with this beginner's guide to the Tour de France.

Porte's Tour tilt buoyed by new BMC contract
Richie Porte hasn’t raised to perceived “games” from his former team Sky days out from his most outright yellow jersey bid against the British powerhouse and its defending champion Chris Froome.

Richie Porte (BMC Racing)
Born: 30 January 1985 (32), Launceston, Tasmania
Role: BMC leader, an all-rounder who rides to win the yellow jersey
Australian cycling club: Launceston City
Tour de France appearances and notable results - 6th Tour appearance. Best result: 5th (2016); Raced on Team Sky's winning teams at the 2012, 2013 and 2015 Tours de France.

Porte came to cycling via triathlon at age 21. The Tasmanian raced in Australia's premier domestic cycling competition, the National Road Series for Team Praties (now Isowhey Sports-Wellness) for two seasons as well as racing as an amateur in Europe.

He caught the eye of Team Saxobank and on debut at the team and his first grand tour, he finished seventh overall at the 2010 Giro d'Italia, taking the best young riders' classification. In 2011, he rode as a super-domestique - or key helper - for Alberto Contador in the Tour de France before moving to Team Sky.

Porte sacrificed his own ambitions for overall victory at the Tour de France for firstly Brad Wiggins in 2012 and then Chris Froome, until he made the move to BMC last season. 

At last year's Tour, Porte suffered time losses from an early puncture and then a moto crash on Mont Ventoux. But he was able to continue to climb with the world's best, pulling off a strong fifth place overall. 

Porte has certainly impressed this season winning the Tour Down Under and the Tour de Romandie. And his oh-so-close second place at the Criterium du Dauphine, a Tour de France warm-up race, showed off his top form on the climbs. 

Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)
Born: 26 September 1990 (26), Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Role: sprinter and 'puncheur' - will ride for stage wins in bunch sprint finishes but can also ride 'hilly' stages like the Ardennes one-day classics. As a result, he is a strong contender for the green jersey awarded to the most consistent finisher based on awarded points. But he'll have to fight off World Champion and five-time green jersey winner, Peter Sagan. 
Australian cycling club: Tuggeranong Vikings
Tour de France appearances and notable results - 3rd Tour appearance. Best result: 1st on stage 10 (2016)

The rider known as 'Bling' won the men's under 23 World Championship Road Race in Geelong in 2010 and started racing for Rabobank, a WorldTour cycling team in 2011 straight out of the AIS system as a 20-year-old. 

The Canberrran moved to Orica-Scott in 2013 for two seasons where he won stages at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana. 

After John Degenkolb moved to Trek-Segafredo from Sunweb, Matthews with his similar skill set now has more resources behind him to devote to the green jersey competition. After a recent stage win at the Tour de Suisse, the Australian rates his chances highly. 

"I would have to say about the same as Sagan," Matthews told Cyclingnews. "We're pretty similar riders but maybe he sprints on the flat a bit better and I climb a bit better. I think 11 stages maybe even more. I haven't really calculated how many stages I could get. We'll get through the first week and then see how everything is going."

It's easy being Green if you're Peter Sagan
The air of favouritism surrounding Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) for this year’s maillot vert (Green Jersey) is the sort that would leave the likes of Chris Froome (Sky) and Richie Porte (BMC) envious.

Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe)
Born: 8 September 1992 (24), Maryborough, QLD
Role: puncheur who can climb and will ride in service of Peter Sagan for his green jersey bid, and protect Rafal Majka between mountains
Australian cycling club: Fraser Coast
Tour de France appearances and notable results - 1st Tour appearance

His first Tour de France but McCarthy has ridden both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.

The youngster signed with Team Saxo-Tinkoff in 2013 via the AIS pathway and followed Majka and Sagan to Bora-Hansgrohe when the team wound-up last year.

McCarthy finished third overall at this year's Tour Down Under and won a stage in 2014, his only pro win.

Mark Renshaw (Dimension-Data)
Born: 22 October 1982 (34), Bathurst, NSW
Role: sprinter with one job: Mark Cavendish's pilot fish. That's the last rider in the team's sprint train who delivers their boss over the line in a bunch finish
Australian cycling club: Bathurst
Tour de France appearances and notable results - 9th Tour start. Helped Cavendish to many a victory and also his 2011 green jersey title. 

Needs no real introduction as he's navigated 'Cav' to numerous sprint victories for many years now.

The veteran pair are both underdone - Cavendish due to glandular fever, and Renshaw because of a crash. But these guys have been in the game for so long, noone will underrate them. 

Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal)
Born: 11 May 1981 (36), Southport, QLD
Role: puncheur who is handy on the hills. Rides as part of Andre Greipel's sprint train. His other role? Lotto -Soudal are probably more than happy to see just how long his grand tour streak will play out.
Australian cycling club: Cairns, QLD
Tour de France appearances and notable results - 8th Tour start. Assisted in many of Greipel's victories.

Legend has it that if all the kilometres Hansen has raced in the course of completing 17 straight grand tours were laid down after each other, you would reach the moon, and make it back home again. Other myths centred around Hansen include him single handedly revolutionising the world's databases with his programming skills, and wrestling a crocodile with his bare hands while riding a mountain bike in Australia's top end.

Or something like that. But the guy IS HARD. Yes, he has actually completed 17 grand tours in a row. And while he's mega smart outside of cycling - yes, he can code - he's also known to love the odd beer hand-up. The Queenslander might even be convinced to drink a shoey, as long as it's from the cycling shoe he designed.

While Hansen's a major part of Andre Greipel's sprint train, he's capable of sniffing out a grand tour break away - and winning them, which he's done at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac)
Born: 18 July 1986 (30), Melbourne, VIC
Role: puncheur who can climb. Will be riding for Andrew Talansky but may be given the freedom to go for a stage victory.
Australian cycling club: Carnegie Caulfield, VIC
Tour de France appearances and notable results - 3rd Tour start.

Only 30, Clarke is seen as a relative veteran among the Aussie contingent, joining the World Tour in 2011 with Astana. He rode with Orica-Scott from 2012 serving as road captain at many a race. The 2014 Herald-Sun Tour winner moved to Cannondale-Drapac in 2016.

Clarke won the Vuelta a Espana climber's jersey in 2012 so is no slouch when things get hilly. Like Hansen, he is skilled at making it into a breakaway. While Talansky is seen as the leader of Cannondale-Drapac, they will no doubt leave things fairly open when it comes to stage victories and likely give Clarke free rein.

The Orica-Scott contingent

Damien Howson 
Born: 13 August 1992 (24), Adelaide SA
Role: climber who rides in support of Esteban Chaves. At this year's Tour, he'll also look after Simon Yates
Australian cycling club: Central Districts
Tour de France appearances and notable results - 1st Tour start

Howson could very well be the next Richie Porte. But at the moment the young grey-haired rider is happy to ride for Chaves, and was a key lieutenant in the Colombian Kangaroo's podium places at last year's Giro d'Italia (second) and Vuelta a Espana (third).

The South Australian turned pro with Orica-Scott in 2014 via the AIS and hasn't looked back. Remember his name.  

 

Mathew Hayman 
Born: 20 April 1978 (39), Camperdown NSW
Role: puncheur built for the Classics like Paris-Roubaix. At grand tours, he heralds his team leaders through the flats and sketchy areas of town
Australian cycling club: Canberra
Tour de France appearances and notable results - 3rd Tour start

Now a senior member of the Orica-Scott line-up after riding for several squads over the years including Rabobank and Sky, it's hard to believe it's only Hayman's third Tour de France. 

But as he loves riding the spring Classics, either for himself or others, his focus was elsewhere. But he debuted in 2014 and has provided crucial guidance for the younger riders. 

In 2016, his 16th year as a professional, he won his favourite race, the sacred Paris-Roubaix. 

Australia's Hayman wins a Paris-Roubaix for the ages
Australia's Mathew Hayman turned back the years and dialled up the experience with a gritty and tactically perfect performance to win a pulsating Paris-Roubaix.

Luke Durbridge  
Born: 9 April 1991 (26), Greenmount, WA
Role: puncheur built for the Classics like Paris-Roubaix and has much the same role at grand tours as Hayman. 
Australian cycling club: Midland
Tour de France appearances and notable results - 4th Tour start

After a glittering career in the velodrome, 'Durbo' debuted on the WorldTour in 2012 with Orica-Scott. 

Also a strong time-triallist, his main goal is to one day win a race like Paris-Roubaix. Last year, Hayman was actually riding for the West Australian but after Durbridge suffered a mechanical, the elder, in an excellent position out the front went for victory. Durbo still managed to finish 18th.

At this year's Tour of Flanders, another cobbled classic, he finished 12th. One day he'll bring a major Classic title home. 

 

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