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Porte leads world cycling ranking

  • Porte leads world cycling ranking

    Australian cyclist Richie Porte says the pressure is off him in the lead-up to the Tour de France.

Australian cycling star Richie Porte is happy for the spotlight to shine on Chris Froome and Alberto Contador heading into the Tour de France.

Porte leads the WorldTour rankings after he finished runner up in January at the Tour Down Under and third overall this week at Paris-Nice.

The Tasmanian switched teams from Sky to BMC this year so he could ride at the Tour de France as a team leader.

In previous years, Porte has played a crucial support role at the Tour for Contador and Froome, who have won the race.

BMC's plan this year is for Porte and American Tejay van Garderen to share team leadership at the three-week Grand Tour.

"I don't see it as stress," Porte told RIDE magazine.

"I think, obviously, the guys having the stress are the guys like Froomey and Contador who are the overwhelming favourites to go and win the Tour.

"I'm actually quite excited to be able to take a little bit more of a backseat - Sky (Froome) and Tinkoff (Contador) are the teams that have to ride the race.

"Tejay and I can hopefully sit in."

There has been plenty of talk around BMC having co-leaders at the Tour de France.

But Porte pointed to Paris-Nice as to how the strategy can work.

Sky's Geraint Thomas won the stage race ahead of Contador, who put plenty of pressure on the Welshman with an attack during the riveting last stage.

"It was nice to go to Paris-Nice and race against Tinkoff with Contador and (Rafal) Majka, and Sky with Geraint Thomas and Sergio Henao and see that, having two guys on GC is actually quite a good plan for the tactics in the race," Porte said.

"Hopefully Tejay and I will be around the mark in July."

While Porte has made a strong start to the season, he has had his challenges.

Last month, Porte was below-par at the Tour of Oman.

His piriformis syndrome, a muscular condition that flared last season, returned during the race.

And Porte picked up a cold during Paris-Nice, meaning he is yet to decide whether he will defend his title at next week's Volta a Catalunya stage race in Spain.

Porte said he feels "as sick as a dog", but has a few days to recover and make a final decision.

Catalunya will be another strong pointer towards the Tour de France, with Froome racing for the first time since he won January's Herald Sun Tour in Victoria.

Contador and Nairo Quintana, who finished runner-up to Froome at last year's Tour de France, are also in the field.

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