ANDERSON: Porte’s Paris-Nice win a testament to Team Sky

Phil Anderson Columnist

By Phil Anderson, Phil Anderson is a Roar Expert

 , , , ,

3 Have your say

    Richie Porte has been waiting a long time - but so has Tejay. Who will be the main man? (Image: AFP)

    Related coverage

    Richie Porte’s victory at the 2013 Paris-Nice last weekend is deserved reward for a rider who has shaped his career in his own manner, succeeding despite his constant omission from world championship teams due to Australian selectors.

    But that commentary is for another time.

    Richie is now the consummate professional, riding support for both Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome when it is required of him and able to wear the mantel of leadership to further his own ambitions for the future.

    The all-powerful Team Sky are targeting races to develop the potential leadership aspirations of a rider like Porte, while allowing the major aspirants the opportunity to select Grand Tour goals at their leisure with the full support of a team where each rider is allowed to develop their own roles.

    The shape of the racing season has changed a great deal since my first Paris Nice back in 1980.

    The Tour Down Under is now the official start of the World Tour season, and the races roll over back-to-back until the start of the Grand Tours in Europe.

    Team Sky are dictating the terms in such an absurdly professional manner that the remainder of the teams appear to look amateurish in comparison.

    Currently Team Sky is the essence of professional cycling, they represent the future and image of the sport.

    The European teams remain stuck in the traditions that the sport was built on and, for better or worse, the UCI remains committed to their course of a World Tour with scant regard for the pace of change and the impact on the financial base that supports the team network.

    The upheaval will continue as funds tighten with champion riders on substandard teams unable to compete against a Froome, Wiggins, or Porte.

    Each are able to take up the reigns with equal veracity in any race that they select with an almighty force behind them in support.

    Richie was given position as leader of the Sky Pro cycling team for this year’s Paris-Nice.

    Wiggins won the event last year and when he decided he was not going to focus on this year’s Paris Nice, Richie put his hand up.

    I suspect however that this was Richie’s designated reward, after last year’s hard yards for Sky and I believe this was pre-ordained a long time before the media caught hold of Wiggins abdication of Paris Nice.

    Paris-Nice was always called ‘The Race to the Sun’ and in my time was considered the first serious race of the season.

    Today the World Tour chases the sun and the riders don’t really face too many treacherous conditions until they hit the courses of the Spring Classics.

    The Paris-Nice is an historic race and ever keen to notch up early wins, teams would hold training camps in the milder climes of Southern Italy, Spain or the South of France to prepare for the race.

    For three weeks prior teams would train, thousands of kilometres in sunshine and non-frosty conditions. Every couple of days there were local races that we would enter, to sharpen our race form as the Paris-Nice drew closer.

    I recall listening to legendary stories of old as told by my Peugeot team elders, of the days when riders would find their way to Paris and gather on the start line, some with only an expectation of gaining additional form as the race progressed.

    Organisers turned a blind eye if you happened not to finish a stage the day before and you rolled up to the start line to ride again the next day.

    Riders would start the race in full winter kit, their bikes sported mud-guards. The old timers would grumble about how serious the race was becoming and the rest of us would race for glory, dragging the race into the present.

    Traditions were changing back then and I hear my voice and thoughts resonating to the same tune as that of the elders back in my day.

    Richie Porte’s progression from a young rider on Team Genesys to the consummate profession he now is on Team Sky is symptomatic of the changes that are occurring in the sport.

    The race itself nearly disappeared from the race calendar 11 years ago due to financial difficulties but was thankfully picked up by the Tour de France organisers ASO.

    Paris-Nice became a globally televised event, a race to watch and the breeding ground of future Grand Tour champions.

    2013 is Richie’s second year on the Sky team. He realised on signing that he was joining a team of champions and that opportunities for leadership would be few.

    Richie isn’t a risk taker and with Sky he sought to grow into his career without the pressures of a leadership position.

    The 2013 Paris-Nice was the first time he has taken the role of team leader from the outset and he has now proven he can add that laurel to his palmeries.

    While he has announced that he will resume his position as one of the team’s domestiques in the coming events, his experience over the past week should have given him some confidence to step up and be counted in the future for a Grand Tour role.

    The biggest question of all will be, with which team?

    Phil Anderson
    Phil Anderson

    Phil Anderson cycling tours
    Phil Anderson Cycling Tours
    At Phil Anderson Cycling Tours, everything they do is about offering quality, once in a lifetime cycling experiences to their guests. Phil's tours cover the European Cycling Season and include the Grand Tours of the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana. Phil also organises custom tours around Australia as well as one-off experiences with the legend himself.

    To find out more visit Phil Anderson Cycling Tours.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (3)

    • Columnist

      March 13th 2013 @ 2:14pm
      Lee Rodgers said | March 13th 2013 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

      Great article, Mr. Anderson, and fascinating to hear about the progression that Paris-Nice has undergone. I can’t imagine Alberto Contador turning up to any race with fenders on his bike, that would be worth seeing! With the increasing commercialisation of the sport the races have all become slick and professional looking, taking the lead set by the Tour I suppose.

      What’s interesting though is that the fans still love watching the pros going at it on the hard days in the wet and the mud. No disrespect to good races like the Tour Down Under, but days like we had recently at Tirreno-Adriatico really signify the spring season for me.

      Pros these days are on for good 11 months of the year too, unlike when I was younger when there was a designated and lengthy off-season. Takes a lot of constant dedication to stay good for so long.

      I think Richie rode a great race and I agree in that he’s been smart in his choices so far. He resisted the temptation to go to a less professional team and end up as leader but without the support he needs. Instead, he’s stuck with Sky and, as I’m sure Brailsford promised him when he was working his backside off for Froome and Wiggins, his time has come.

      Maybe we’ll see him going for the Vuelta a Espana this year? Or the Giro next?

    • March 13th 2013 @ 4:44pm
      nickoldschool said | March 13th 2013 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

      Tbh, I dont like team Sky’s hegemony that we are starting to see in world cycling. Reminds me of US postal a bit more than a decade ago. Was also reading then that the americans were the ‘new professionals, that old Europe was behind etc… “. The only professionalism they brought in cycling was in doping, full stop. Yep, they managed to make Once, Festina and co look amateurish. A tour de force when it comes to doping.

      Phil’s sentence “Currently Team Sky is the essence of professional cycling, they represent the future and image of the sport.” was very much attributed to Armstrong, Landis and co before. Not saying that Sky is a new USP and Froome a new Armstrong but I dont think that brits or americans know/knew something spaniards, italiand, dutch or french dont. We are in the same world, cyclists, coaches, staff etc switch to other teams every year. I dont believe Sky are training in a completely different way than other teams.

      Anyway, i hope that Contador, Nibali, Rodriguez, Rodriguez, Evans, Peraud and co will kick Sky’s as* in July. Dont wanna see a Sky wearing yellow in Paris.

      • April 5th 2013 @ 10:10am
        nickyc said | April 5th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        Richie Porte speaking after his win at Paris-Nice.

        “There are no secrets at Team Sky except hard work and innovative ideas and training methods.”

        “How many teams are doing 25 minutes of threshold training at altitude? We do our jobs. We’re professional.”

        “Everyone used to laugh at us when we started to ride our trainers after the stages. Now 90% of the peleton is doing it. We’re trend-setters.”

        “When I was at Saxo Bank, it was a very traditional team. Team Sky is totally different. There is no other team training as hard as we do.”

        Personally, I think Team Sky are a breath of fresh air built on the same principles that Dave Brailsford has brought so successfully to British track cycling. As one of the few professional teams which I’m absolutely confident is drug free I hope to see them retaining the TDF in July.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    , , , ,