Froome is targeting a record-equalling fifth Tour title this month, but to get it he will need to complete a rare Giro d’Italia-Tour double and make it four Grand Tour wins in a row having also won La Vuelta last year.
Porte helped Froome to Tour victories in 2013 and 2015 before leaving Team Sky to join BMC in pursuit of his own Grand Tour ambitions, but is yet to better his old friend and is looking for a helping hand in France.
“It was nice to watch him in the Giro, and I hope he’s tired” the Tasmanian said.
“I hope that he is tired. Guys like Vincenzo (Nibali) and Nairo (Quintana) are never going to give him an easy day. A lot can happen out on the road and if he does have a bad day quite a few guys are ready to end his winning streak.”
Froome is clear to race in the Tour after the UCI ended its anti-doping investigation into an adverse analytical finding he returned for Salbutamol at La Vuelta and Tour organisers subsequently dropped their attempts to bar him from the event.
As Salbutamol is a specified substance, Froome’s case should have been dealt with in private unless a anti-doping case was proven, but the story was leaked in December.
Asked his opinion on the matter, Porte said: “He’s been cleared. It was never really for us, it’s above us, it doesn’t really matter what our opinion is. It’s just a shame that once again cycling airs its dirty laundry in public.
“Whether you like Chris or not, he had a right to have his privacy respected. That’s more the story, where the leak has come from.”
Porte arrives at the Tour on the back of his victory in the Tour de Suisse last month, but his credentials as a one-week stage racer are not in question.
The 33-year-old is yet to make the podium of a Grand Tour with a litany of illnesses, injury and pure bad luck derailing his tilts at the Giro and Tour titles over the past three years.
“I’m not getting any younger,” he said. “We have a super team this year. The first nine stages are pretty tricky but I think we have the horsepower to get me through those. We’ve had a great season so far and I’m supermotivated for this Tour.”
Sky on Wednesday released data from Froome’s decisive win on stage 19 of the Giro, when he used a stunning 80km breakaway launched on the Colle delle Finestre to overturn a three-minute deficit to set up overall victory.
“I think they put that out there and hope guys underfuel,” he said. “I don’t really take much into it. Everyone knows what they’re doing. We’re all professional athletes and 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.”
Dan Martin will target the general classification at the Tour de France but his UAE Team Emirates squad will have split ambitions with sprinter Alexander Kristoff also named in the squad.
Irishman Martin is looking to build on his 2017 performance when he finished sixth in the Tour despite racing for almost two weeks with two broken vertebrae in his back after a crash on stage nine.
Ahead of the start of Saturday’s three-week long race, we take a look at the seven UAE Team Emirates riders who will be on the start line at Noirmoutier-en-l’Île.
The Irishman comes into the La Grande Boucle off the back of a fourth place finish at the Criterium du Dauphine last month. Managed a sixth place finish at the Tour last year and should at least match that this time, depending on how dominant Chris Froome and Richie Porte are on the roads of France.
The Norwegian may not be the same maestro from the 2014 and 2015 seasons, but he is still far from a fading force. Winning the Eschborn-Frankfurt and GP du canton d’Argovie in recent months shows there is fight and pace still in him.
The Colombian may have failed to scale the same heights of 2016 when he finished ninth in the Giro d’Italia, but his qualities as a rider are unquestionable. Produced one of the most inspiring rides of the Tour de France last year, finishing second on stage 18 behind Warren Barguil, earning the red bib for his efforts as the most aggressive rider. UAE’s best climber.
The Italian produced a season-best performance at the Giro when he finished fifth on stage 18. Crossed the line in 18th at Paris Roubaix and 25th at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite to underline his status as a marquee sprinter. His experience and general race-craft on the flat stages will be crucial to helping Kristoff win a maiden stage at the Tour.
Another rider who is starting to find his rhythm at the right time, with a top-10 finish at the Tour of California in May. His superb stage win at the Tour of Croatia last year was among his standout moments with the team, outsprinting Vincenzo Nibali at the Biokovo mountain finish.
The youngster has proven he can compete at the highest level, with top-15 finishes at the GC at Hammer Stavanger and Hammer Sportzone Limburg. In his first Tour de France, the Italian will be hoping to play a pivotal role in putting Martin in the best position possible to challenge Froome and Co.
The Italian produced a stunning display at the Volta a Catalunya in March to secure two top-five finishes. After a poor display at the Tour de Suisse, Ferrari will be bidding to re-discover his form around the rolling hills of France.
An experienced rider, the Australian is a domestique with the team and supports Martin and Kristoff in their battle for victory. In his first season with the UAE outfit, Sutherland comes into the race on the back of a season-best 20th place finish on stage three of the Criterium du Dauphine.
Ahead of the Tour de France which gets underway on Saturday, UAE Team Emirates‘ Vegard Stake Laengen analyses the stages that will the peloton will tackle during the first week of La Grand Boucle.
Stage One (Noirmoutier-En-L’Ïle – Fontenay-Le-Comte)
Stage One would normally be quite easy, but I think given how close we are to the coast, the crosswinds could make it hard for the General Classification contenders. The winds here can be strong, especially if they are coming in from the Atlantic Ocean. The peloton will be nervous, but if it’s the correct type of wind we could see some teams attack for sure. Whatever the weather, it will be a super nervous and stressful stage for everyone.
Stage Two (Mouilleron-Saint Germain – La Roche-Sur-Yon)
This area is quite rural. There are lots of fields and at times it can be quite open, so we could still see the wind impact the race. The profile is quite easy though and I’m sure this will end in a sprint finish.
Stage Three (Cholet)
The Team Time Trial (TTT) shouldn’t cause too many issues for the main GC contenders as there is still plenty of time to go in the race. The roads are relatively straight and there aren’t too many climbs to tackle, but it will be important for every team to put in a lot of effort to make sure their GC contenders aren’t left with too big a time gap.
Stage Four (La Baule – Sarzeau)
Stage Four is suited to the sprinters. There are a few rolling hills that go up and down but I think it’s a good stage for Alexander Kristoff. He could use the wind to his advantage and I would expect him to battle for a podium place.
Stage Five (Lorient – Quimper)
There’s a punchy finish at the end of this stage which could impact the race. I would expect to see some of the Classics riders impress; Dan Martin for example. The climbs might just be a bit too difficult for some of the sprinters.
Stage Six (Brest – Mûr de Bretagne Guerlédan)
Similar to Stage five, there are no big climbs, but the punchy finish into Mur-De-Bretagne could challenge a few riders.
Stage Seven (Fougères – Chartres)
More or less flat, this should be a stage for the sprinters. The wind could impact sections of the course, but going into the forest area, they could get a break. This is quite a long stage, especially if there is a change in the weather, but I don’t see too many issues for the riders.
Stage Eight (Dreux – Amiens Métropole)
We’re now one week into the race and there could still be some gaps because of the TTT on Stage three. Couple that with the finishes on Stage five and six, we could see the peloton start to open up during Stage eight, and, if there is a crosswind, we could see some splits in the peloton.
Stage Nine (Arras Citadelle – Roubaix)
The Classics riders will have a big advantage on this stage. They are going through lots of pave sections which are not easy. You could have bad luck with punctures and the roads are so small, it makes it extremely difficult. It will be hard for the lighter climbers, who will bounce up and down on the stones. I think this has the opportunity to be one of the most epic stages of the tour!