TWO of Australia’s big climbers Cadel Evans and Richie Porte will get an opportunity to flex their muscles head-to-head for the first time this year in the Cycling Australia Road National Championships elite road race at Buninyong tomorrow.
Evans and Porte are on a collision course as two of the major contenders for one of the year’s grand tours – the Giro d’Italia.
Evans, who finished third in the Giro last year, has earmarked the tour as his major target.
He will not press on to the Tour de France, the race which was his crowning glory in 2011.
This is the reason for his earlier start to the year and consequently an appearance in the nationals for the first time in nine years.
Porte too is throwing everything at Giro, with Sky Racing nominating him as team leader for the event. The only different is that Porte plans to back-up in the Tour de France, when he will cast aside personal ambitions as a key lieutenant for teammate and reigning champion Chris Froome,
“If Cadel isn’t able to do it, that shows how hard it is,” Porte said.
“I know how it is to do the Giro-Tour (double). I did it three years ago and it wasn’t pleasant.
“But I also know I’ve come a long way in those three years. It will be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to having a crack at it.”
It is difficult to assess how Porte and Evans will go in the 183.6km race at Buninyong, with each building towards the Tour Down Under in South Australia later in the month and then another massive year in Europe.
Two days of races begins today with the under-23 men (132.6km) at 9am, and elite and under-23 women setting off on 102km from 1.30pm.