• Porte was in an optimistic mood heading into the decisive mountain stages. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Richie Porte (BMC Racing) is unsure about what to expect the upcoming weekend of climbing after safely negotiating a windy and nervous Stage 7 of the Tour de France.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
BMC Pro Team
8 Jul 2017 - 10:23 AM  UPDATED 8 Jul 2017 - 10:27 AM

Porte was surrounded by teammates throughout a dangerous stage in northern France. With the winds whipping up over the exposed terrain there could well have been splits in the peloton and BMC had to make sure they stayed on top of any surges within the main bunch.  

Speaking after the stage, a relieved Porte was clearly just happy that he had gotten to the second week of the race without suffering from one of his all too regular mishaps that have ruled him out of general classification battles in the past.

"There was a bit of wind there and everyone wanted to be at the front," said Porte. "It was an absolute nightmare all day so it's just nice to get that one done."

The Tasmanian will be back in his favoured terrain tonight (Australian time) as he tackles the first of two consecutive mountain stages with the peloton heading into the Jura mountain range.

"Tomorrow (Saturday) is a bit of an unknown to be honest. It's kind of a finish that we don't normally do in the Tour de France, a 12km climb and then a bit of a plateau to the finish so I'm not sure what's going to happen there so it should be interesting."

Whilst the 187 kilometre Stage 8 from Dole to Station des Rousses contains just three climbs with the hardest being a Category 1 affair, the much harder Stage 9 will feature nine climbs, including three 'hors catégorie' ascents. 

"This weekend is the first real big shake up. We have climb after climb on Sunday and I think it's going to be a hard weekend for everyone.

Stage 5 to La Planche des Belles Filles has been the only mountain stage to date, where BMC showed confidence in their Australian charge to set the tempo for most of the day to keep a strong break in check. Team Sky took over at the foot of the climb and showed their power to keep the race together until the final kilometres when eventual stage winner Fabio Aru broke free with just over two kilometres left.

With both Stage 8 & 9 featuring tough climbs that peak some distance out from the finish, it will have to be a case of Froome cracking or an adventurous assault from Porte off the front to give the 32-year old the chance to claw some of his 39-second deficit back from the current race leader.

"You just have to see how it will be raced," said Porte. "There is a fair distance to the finish after the climb on Sunday so it could be a negative race."