Richie Porte says he is “motivated” to start a mountainous edition of the Amgen Tour of California following an encumbered start to the season with new team Trek-Segafredo.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
11 May 2019 - 2:12 PM  UPDATED 11 May 2019 - 2:15 PM

The 34-year-old has suffered from intermittent illness since February and ahead of another Tour de France title tilt that the new squad is set to back him in.

Speaking at a pre-race press conference in Sacramento on Friday, Porte wasn’t specific on his overall aims here, or his chances of competing for the race win, but was upbeat.

“I’m always motivated but it’s not been a great start at all to the year. Tour Down Under was good but then continually getting sick and changing race programmes, it’s not how I wanted to start with Trek-Segafredo,” he said. “But I mean the motivation is always good, it’s a good quality field here so it’s not as simple as wanting it and then it happens. As long as I’m motivated that’s a step in the right way.”

Porte won a stage and finished second overall at the Tour Down Under in January, before placing fifth overall at the Herald Sun Tour. He suffered from a “small virus” thereafter and took about a week off the bike. The former two-time Paris-Nice champion consequently marked a quiet campaign at the proceeding UAE Tour. Following that he substituted Paris-Nice for the later scheduled Volta a Catalunya, in March, which was his last race.

The Tasmanian will make his race debut in California alongside teammate and versatile German sprint champion, John Degenkolb.

“All these races are important and it’s nice to step outside of Europe for a little bit, for races like the Tour Down Under and Tour of California. I think in a lot of ways they’re leading how cycling has got to go, other than the Tour obviously. It’s nice to come somewhere different,” Porte said.

“I’m really looking forward to stepping out on Sunday and starting. To be honest for GC, every day is the most important. You can’t switch off. It’s a shame for me there is no time trial but there is plenty of climbing in this race.”

Uran returns to racing at Tour of California
Rigoberto Uran retuns to racing for a strong EF Education First at the upcoming Tour of California. Watch the action live with your brekky from 8am AEST Monday 13 May on SBS VICELAND and streaming via SBS On Demand.

That includes stage two to South Lake Tahoe as well as the summit finish on stage six to Mt Baldy, which features an 8.2km climb to the line with an average gradient of 8.4 per cent.

“I heard that’s the most decisive stage. Also, up to Tahoe altitude can play funny games and that’s also one to look forward to,” he said.

Porte’s rivals here include Tejay van Garderen and his EF Education First teammate Rigoberto Uran, who will mark his return to racing following a crash at Paris-Nice in which he fractured his collarbone and abandoned the event. Kiwi George Bennett headlines the Jumbo-Visma team and Australian Rohan Dennis at Bahrain-Merida.

The Tour of California starts on Sunday with a flat stage around Sacramento for the sprinters.

Sophie Smith is at the Amgen Tour of California as a guest of AEG and ASO, reporting for SBS online.