After Chris Froome‘s opening act on Wednesday, it was the turn of Richie Porte and his BMC Racing ensemble to deliver a Tour de France performance at their pre-race press conference. In a packed auditorium, Porte took centre stage and made light of the tag of favourite that has been anointed upon him by Froome before delivering a claim that Team Sky are not as strong as they once were. In the phoney war of mind-games, the two top favourites for this year’s race have proved that they are in Düsseldorf with their best lines well rehearsed.
“Chris has won three Tours and there’s no reason he can’t win a fourth,” Porte opened with calmly as he found his voice before reaching for his big numbers.
“He’s the big favourite here. I think he’s going to be in a lot better form that in the Dauphiné and he knows how to take the pressure, obviously.”
Shifting pressure appears to have been one of the key objectives for Porte and Froome in the last few weeks. No sooner had Froome finished the final stage of the Dauphiné before he publicly stated his former teammate and super domestique was the man to beat. In almost every interview since then Froome – who rarely goes off-script – has reiterated the point. When Porte was quizzed about his status and Froome’s tag, the Australian gave a wry grin before delivering his own interpretation of the situation.
“I think that’s one of the games that they play,” he said.
“At the end of the day behind closed doors, I’m sure that they think that they have the guy to do it. He’s got the track record but Chris is obviously the one with the biggest target on his back. He’s the defending champion and it’s not going to be between just him and me. It’s more than a two-horse race.”
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