• Australian Richie Porte signs on ahead of Stage 2 at the 2019 UAE Tour (Getty)Source: Getty
Richie Porte has focused on the bigger picture as he clocks kilometres and further familiarises with a new team at the UAE Tour this week, following illness.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
1 Mar 2019 - 10:42 AM  UPDATED 1 Mar 2019 - 10:53 AM

Porte (Trek-Segafredo) has had a quiet run here in the UAE following a full block of summer racing in Australia, after which he suffered from a “small virus” and had time off.

“I don’t think anyone should be terribly surprised with where I am at the moment. It is what it is. Of course, it’s a WorldTour race and you like to do well but I haven’t had a great run-in,” he said. “After the Herald Sun Tour, I had to have a week off the bike. It’s a shame, with a new team you want to be up there and getting points, but we have to see what we do after this as well.”

Porte made his debut with Trek-Segafredo at the Tour Down Under last month in which he won a stage and finished second overall. He then competed at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, placing 29th, before concluding the campaign with fifth overall at the Herald Sun Tour. The 34-year-old doesn’t believe the full program on home soil was a precursor to his illness.

“If you look at the guys here, I’ve never seen everyone so, you know [Tom] Dumoulin and guys like that, so lean so early,” he said. “I don’t think you can really look at it any more like that, saying that the Australian summer is too stressful, too early, because a lot of guys are at altitude now.

“It’s motivation to be there at Down Under, especially with a new team.”

The UAE Tour continues today with the queen stage to the Jebel Jais summit finish that will decide the overall classification, which Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) leads. Porte was dropped early on the Stage 3 summit finish, and yesterday had his mind set further ahead than Stage 6.

Porte is racing in the UAE with friend and now teammate Will Clarke. Clarke was part of the entourage, including soigneurs and mechanics, that followed the Tasmanian to Trek-Segafredo this year.

“At the end of the day, I’m probably more motivated to start with this team. I’m so happy with this team, it’s a fantastic bunch of guys as well,” he said.

Porte’s first major objective of the season is Paris-Nice, which he has won twice.

“For the moment that’s the goal. That was the long-term goal, was Paris-Nice,” he said.

A title shot at the Tour de France is as ever not far from his mind either.

“For me now, not flying in February hopefully [means] come July, which is the big picture, I’m in better shape,” he said.

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