Richie Porte (BMC centre) stalks Chris Froome (yellow jersey). Picture: AFP
Richie Porte (BMC centre) stalks Chris Froome (yellow jersey). Picture: AFP

Porte begins mind games with ‘buggered’ Froome

RICHIE Porte has declared himself "mentally ready" for a Tour de France battle and said Chris Froome could be weakened after his Giro d'Italia victory.

Porte cut a lean presence at BMC's pre-race press conference and then cast doubt over the four-time winner's ability to back-up from Italy's gruelling Grand Tour in May.

"It was nice to watch him in the Giro and hope he's buggered. He might be," Porte said.

"Since (Marco) Pantani it hasn't been done. I was here in 2011 with Alberto Contador, who crushed it in the Giro and was fifth - which is nothing to sneeze at - but couldn't back it up in the Tour.

"I was in good condition at the Tour de Suisse and I'm hoping to be better. I was ill so I had a quiet start to the season, but the team had faith in me, letting me train at home."

While Porte again defended Froome over his controversial salbutamol case, he described Team Sky's release of Froome's Giro data as "fake news".

The British team had released a series of documents to the BBC two days after Froome's case was dropped by WADA, showing the rider's calorie consumption as well as his power output on key stages.

"I think they put it out there in the hope that people will under fuel," Porte said.

"But we're all pros, we know how to fuel, we don't need to read online what Sky say they're doing. We've been doing this long enough to know how to eat."

Richie Porte has already got into Chris Froome’s head. Picture: Bryn Lennon/Getty
Richie Porte has already got into Chris Froome’s head. Picture: Bryn Lennon/Getty

The data drop has done little to satisfy the French public, with the 105th edition of the Tour de France starting on Saturday night against a backdrop of anger and uncertainty.

Froome was greeted with a chorus of boos, jeers and whistles at the official team presentation at the Place Napoleon.

One fan held up a sign in English that read "cheater, go home!".

It came as French star Romain Bardet called for calm.

"We have to respect each of the riders, not least Chris Froome, a four-time winner. I have confidence in the security and also in the French public and I'm sure we'll see a great race full of enthusiasm," Bardet said.

"If there's someone to blame it's not Froome, it's the laxness of the rules. An adverse analytical finding, a positive test, this thing about thresholds - we don't really know where we stand. This creates doubts and suspicions.

"Of course, cycling hasn't covered itself in glory ... but now it's important that the Tour gets underway in a calm atmosphere."

105TH TOUR DE FRANCE

DATES: July 7-July 29

TEAMS: 22 teams, 176 riders

STAGES: 21 stages, 3,351km

STAGE 1

Noirmoutier-en-l'lle to Fontenay-le-Comte

201km (Flat)

Saturday, SBS, 8.30pm