Was jumping ship to BMC the right thing for Richie Porte?
Porte continues to confound expectations, in the wrong way. Porte always performs well and Willunga was proof of that, but he has a tendency to fade on the big stage – and the switch to BMC hasn’t changed that yet. BMC are no shrinking violets, and it’s not been long since Cadel Evans won the Tour de France for them. The Tour Down Under was richer for Porte’s presence and could have been his big moment – his first grand tour for BMC and a big psychological boost. But does he have the personality to inspire, let alone command a team to victory?
Apparently some big names missed the first tour of the season. Instead we were treated to another podium finish for Team Sky understudy Sergio Henao, who also grabbed the King of the Mountain jersey. Lots of riders wanting to make a name for themselves, encouraged by their sponsors will always hit this race hard, and given the low points status in the UCI World Tour rankings, perhaps it’s unsurprising the big guns took a leave of absence. Henao is looking in fine form to support his Team Sky race leader later in 2016. This begs the question – is The Tour Down Under a second-tier race?
Is Brian Cookson still the ring master?
Cookson’s difficult job of restoring the UCI’s reputation continues, and the lack of big names in The Tour Down Under didn’t help. Trying to reform a sporting body where omerta had become an open secret is no mean feat. When asked if Froome’s absence had damaged the credibility of The Tour Down Under, Cookson pointed out that cyclists are “…not circus performers, they’re serious athletes”. If Cookson finds himself dealing with another scandal he may be tempted to send in the clowns…
When will we see disc brakes in the pro peloton?
Bike manufacturers can’t wait for the big names to be seen using discs, and cycling fans are resigned to the inevitable – we will all have to buy a new bike. Teams like Astana have announced they’re ready to race the spring Classics using discs, meaning The Tour Down Under is one of the last UCI grand tours using calliper brakes. Is it time to say goodbye to callipers for good?