Finding another Alberto. Is Porte ready for improv?
The Cyclingtips’ conversation with Nicolas Roche of BMC was yet another reminder that pros think only an aggressive and unpredictable rider like Alberto Contador could potentially beat Sky’s Chris Froome in the Tour de France.
Only trouble is that Alberto is past his prime, not mentally but perhaps physically. He still wants to throw out a surprise attack at any instant, it’s just he no longer has the legs to make it stick. His go-for-broke style and improvisational jabs simply don’t have the high wattage for success.
Now, Movistar’s Nairo Quintana also gets bonus points for aggression after his pedal turned in anger on the stage to Formigal in last year’s Vuelta a Espana. He stunned Froome and the entire Team Sky and stole the Vuelta crown but the kicker is that it was Alberto who led the charge. Quintana played rhythm guitar to Alberto’s searing lead track.
Sadly, unless you believe the data from Movistar, Quintana will have tired legs after his Giro d’Italia challenge and will lack that high end kick in the third week of the Tour. Movistar says he’ll be just fine, really, don’t worry but everybody else is concerned and calling his Giro-Tour bid foolish and misguided.
Which brings us back to Roche, BMC and his belief that teammate Richie Porte has all the tools to beat Froome in France. The Irishman said Porte needs good luck and no bad days but he made no mention of Porte’s willingness to throw caution to the wind.
Porte did his formative studies at Sky’s School For Marginal Gains where improvisational attacks were not part of the core curriculum. Roche points to Porte’s mental strength but is he mentally prepared to roll the dice and spring a surprise?
Based on recent evidence, Frenchman Romain Bardet seems more inclined to burn matches in unexpected situations. His attack on a wet decent on stage 19 in last year’s Tour took him from 5th to 2nd on GC. Granted, Bardet was no great threat to Froome’s yellow jersey but everyone appreciated the panache.
The question becomes, how much Contador does Richie Porte have inside him? To stop Chris Froome from winning his fourth Tour de France, you need the legs, the head and the willingness to live dangerously.
Is Porte a crazy junkyard dawg? Is he evil enough to stick the knife in at any moment? Is he ready to build a strategy around breaking legs or following wheels? Is he going to play the gentleman with his good buddy Froome or does he have a nasty streak?
Guess we will find out in July and Roche will have the best view in the house.