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After a 2014 season marred by health problems, Richie Porte is looking forward to beginning the new year with a bang at the 2015 Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships.
At the 2014 Mars Road Nationals, Porte claimed road race bronze behind Simon Gerrans and Cadel Evans and everything looked on track for a tilt at the Giro d’Italia, as the leader of the Sky team.
But things didn’t go according to plan for the Tasmanian.
“My health was never where it needed to be,” the 29-year-old said.
“When I look back to Tirreno-Adriatico that’s when things started to go wrong. Hopefully I don’t have any health problems come 2015, and I think that’s the key for me – keep my health up.”
The first real test for Porte will come at the 2015 Road Nationals in Ballarat and he is optimistic that the odds have turned in his favour to take the coveted green and gold jersey.
“I’d love to compete in the Giro (Tour of Italy) as the new Australian champion,” said Porte, who won the best young rider classification at the 2010 Giro d’Italia.
“I love the Buninyong course and I don’t think that [Orica] GreenEdge has got quite the numbers they’ve had in other years.
“It would be very nice to have a podium like we had this year and anybody that wins on that circuit is a worthy winner.
“So it’s a big goal to go there and try and take that jersey,” said Porte.
Having won the road race title for the past three years, come January Orica-GreenEDGE will be without two of their key riders.
Defending champion Simon Gerrans broke his collarbone in a training ride fall just prior to Christmas while sprint ace Michael Matthews, who had a breakout 2014 with stages wins and stints in the leader’s jersey at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, also won’t be riding as he prepares for a slightly later start to his season.
After the Australian summer of cycling Porte will once again look to the Giro d’Italia, the first of the three grand tours, to show his full capability.
“My health is back where it needs to be, and I want to lead in a grand tour and the Giro is the target for me,” he said.
“Nothing is given yet, but it looks like that will be my race.
“Chris (Froome) has also had an up and down season, and it’s his goal to go back and win the Tour de France. I’d love to be there supporting him, but I’m also going to take my opportunities next season.”