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“Xabi had already crashed a few times this race and it’s a shame to lose him, but the show rolls on and it’ll be a similar fight tomorrow I guess," Porte says

Photo: Sirotti










10.07.2014 @ 20:26 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

For the second day in a row, Team Sky lost a rider after Xabier Zandio was forced to abandon the race after another crash. New team leader Richie Porte lamented the loss but praised his team for having brought him safely through a dangerous day.


Richie Porte heaped praise on his team-mates after they guided him through another tough day at the Tour de France, but was sorry to see Team Sky’s ranks reduced further after the loss of Xabier Zandio to injury.


Porte assumed the team leadership role when Chris Froome was forced to abandon the race on Wednesday and was well protected on the sixth stage as crashes diminished the field further.


Zandio came down 79km from home in a large pile-up on wet roads, but Porte lived to fight another day after being safely guided through the dicey run in to Reims.


The 29 year old was a relieved man when he was interviewed after the stage, and admitted he had to stay focused on the job in hand despite losing one of his key wingmen.


He said: “It was such a stressful day today but luckily I had Bernhard Eisel and Geraint Thomas there and I could just sit on the back of them. Those guys and the rest of my team were absolutely incredible. The wind and slippery roads made the going tough, but seven of us made it through and we can tick off another day off now.


“Xabi had already crashed a few times this race and it’s a shame to lose him, but the show rolls on and it’ll be a similar fight tomorrow I guess.”


Eisel had been tasked with supporting Froome when the Tour rolled out of Leeds last Saturday, but is now working for Porte and he remains unfazed despite the wet and wild conditions.


He told reporters: “It’s the same job for me with the same work, the same motivation, and the same preparation. I read the race book every day and when I’m on the road I just keep looking ahead. We communicate verbally so when someone behind me shouts ‘on’, I know Richie’s there and I can ride.


“The pressure is always on at the Tour but I try to do my best. The last six days have been really stressful. The millions of fans in Britain meant you had to stay alert, and the weather, cobbles and crosswinds in France have meant everything has been thrown at us over the last six days.”


And while the going is tough, Eisel has no qualms about working for Porte and has a great relationship with his new team leader.


He joked: “We’re quite similar and we both like chatting a lot in the bunch. I told Richie in the first days, ‘Come on, no more talking now, concentrate, and then he saw me chatting to someone two minutes later and shouted, ‘Shut your mouth, concentrate.’


“We get along really well and I hope I can bring him safely to Paris with a good result in the bag.”



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