Sport Gerrans looms as key Tour ally for Porte

16:37  12 january  2018
16:37  12 january  2018 Source:   MSN

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Simon Gerrans could be exactly what Richie Porte needs in his quest for Tour de France glory. Gerrans is a powerful ally for Porte , but also a teammate who will not mince his words if something needs to be said.

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Simon Gerrans© AAP Image/Dan Peled Simon Gerrans Simon Gerrans could be exactly what Richie Porte needs in his quest for Tour de France glory.

Gerrans said he was honoured last year when Porte made contact and asked if he was interested in joining him at BMC.

The 37-year-old was on the verge of retirement after six years as a team leader at Australian squad Mitchelton-Scott.

But the move to BMC has reinvigorated Gerrans.

"This year for me is a bonus. It's a fresh, new start at BMC," he said.

"I want to make a conscious contribution to Richie's season, in particular his preparation for the Tour de France.

"I'm no shoo-in for a start in the Tour team - that's something I really have to earn.

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"But even in the lead-up races, if I can have a positive influence on Richie's preparation and how he goes about things, that will be a massive box checked for the 2018 season."

He and Porte are good friends, going back to when they had been based in Monaco.

This is the first time they have been teammates.

While Gerrans will still have his personal goals - he remains a formidable one-day classics talent - his main objective this season is road captain for Porte as he prepares for the Tour de France.

Gerrans is a powerful ally for Porte, but also a teammate who will not mince his words if something needs to be said.

"Maybe that's why it was appealing to Richie to have me on board," Gerrans said.

"I've always given it to him straight - I haven't hesitated to pull him into line a couple of times when I thought he needed it.

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Porte wanted a steady hand in his bid to become Australia’s second Tour de France winner. Last summer, Porte reached out to Gerrans because he knew that his compatriot, a veteran of 11 Tours de France, could come in very handy.

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"I think he appreciates that as well, to have someone who's not going to fool around or tell him what he wants to hear."

Porte started last year's Tour de France as the main challenger to Chris Froome, but it ended in disaster with his horrific stage nine.

Regardless of that setback, Gerrans says Porte has what it takes.

"For me, he's a huge contender and he has all the capabilities, from what I can see, to win the Tour de France," Gerrans said.

"He's most definitely at that sweet spot (as a Tour contender) - his confidence is growing as a bike rider."

Porte and Gerrans will be teammates next week at Adelaide's Tour Down Under.

Gerrans is the only rider to win the event four times - most recently in 2016 - but this year, he will be a powerful lieutenant for Porte as he defends his title.

"The goal (for BMC) here is to win with Richie," Gerrans said.

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