Orica boss says Porte's the pick for Tour Down Under
CYCLING: Orica-Scott's sporting director Matt White says his team's three stars will be racing only for a podium spot when the Tour Down Under starts on Sunday.
Four-time race winner Simon Gerrans, Colombian Esteban Chaves and rising Australian star Caleb Ewan will head the Australian team's bid to win the big race, but White said there was only really one likely winner.
"Richie Porte, 100% is the man to beat,” White told Cyclingnews.
"The podium will be Porte, Sergio Henao and then hopefully one of us.
"We just don't know the order yet, but that's the three.”
White underlined Porte's threat, saying the BMC rider was in top shape for the race.
"Richie has said openly that this is a big target for him,” he said.
"He's skipped the nationals just to be here and he's in great shape.
"Both climbs suit him and he's won on Willunga.
"Both him and Henao haven't raced since the Olympics, but I've heard on the grapevine that they're both going well.”
Despite saying BMC rider Porte was the clear favourite, White said Orica-Scott's three leaders were all in good shape for the event.
"Chaves hasn't raced since October, but who has?” White said.
"His form is solid but we won't know his complete condition until he goes head to head with the top guys on stage 2 Paracombe.
"We're going in with three leaders. Caleb for the sprints, and then Simon and Esteban.
"We'll have a fair idea of how the race will go after Wednesday.
"If you lose 20 seconds at Paracombe then you're done because you're not going to gain that much time back at Willunga.
"We've got Chaves and we've got Gerrans, the guy who has won the race four times. He knows how to win this bike race. He's got good legs, but the challenge for him is the two hilltop finishes, and also the approach to Paracombe is harder with more climbing before the finish.
"This race gets harder and harder and it's going to be tough to eclipse last year, when we won four out of six stages.”