Porte craves Tour de France podium finish

Roger Vaughan
Richie Porte says he's right where he needs to be physically and mentally before the Tour de France

The Tour de France is making Richie Porte earn the photo he would dearly love to hang at his home.

But for a ill-timed puncture in 2016 and last year's horrific crash, the Tasmanian could well have joined Cadel Evans as the only Australians to have finished on the podium at the Tour.

Instead the 33-year-old cycling star starts on Saturday night (AEST) chasing the one major goal to have eluded him.

"Of course I want to be on the podium in the Tour, that's the big goal in my professional career," he told AAP.

"If we live in Tassie or in Manchester, wherever we retire, I want that picture of the podium.

"That would be so good."

Porte had his best Tour result of fifth in 2016 and without the puncture early in the opening week, it easily could have been second.

Last year, he was well-placed on the overall standings, within a minute of the lead.

But he crashed at 70km/h on the Mont du Chat descent during stage nine and cannoned into a rock wall, fracturing a pelvis and collarbone among other injuries.

Porte is back at the Tour as one of the key rivals for defending champion Chris Froome after the most tumultuous period of the Australian's career.

Everyone remembers Porte's horrific crash, while Froome also has been at forefront of the pre-Tour news this year because of the controversy surrounding his anti-doping investigation.

Froome was cleared this week and the Team Sky leader is the man to beat again as he chases his fifth Tour title.

But what is often forgotten is that a few weeks before last year's Tour, Froome worked against Porte in a key stage of the Criterium Dauphine.

While they remain mates, Porte said it changed their friendship.

It was a pivotal moment in Porte's career.

Then came the Tour crash and months of rehab.

Porte made a successful comeback in January, winning the Willunga stage at the Tour Down Under for the fifth-straight year and taking second overall.

He was sick at the start of the European season, but Porte had probably the biggest win of his career last month when he took out the Tour de Suisse.

A few days before Suisse, his wife Gemma gave birth to their first child, Luca.

On top of all that, Porte's team BMC have an uncertain future and the speculation is that he will move next year to Trek-Segafredo.

But before Porte's future is revealed on or after August 1, when trades can be done officially, there is a Tour to win.

While Froome is the No.1 favourite, he also won the Giro d'Italia in May.

No rider has achieved the Giro-Tour double since Italian Marco Pantani in 1998.

Porte joked this week that he hopes Froome is "buggered" from the Giro.

By contrast, Porte is relaxed and ready, especially in the wake of his Tour de Suisse title.

"I'm not going to be going into the Tour running on fumes," he said.

"It's just different this year.

"I'm right where I need to be, physically and mentally."