A winding road to Paris

Richie Porte puts in the legwork for this year’s 3516-kilometre Tour de France by completing up to 1000km a week around Tasmania.

Beginning his day with Fritz, a scary-looking but harmless rottweiler, Porte methodically prepares his sustenance and checks his bike before heading off well before the 6.24am sunrise.

In July, Tasmanian cycling fans will be positioned in front of television screens past midnight to monitor the progress of the leaders in the Tour de France.

And yet at the moment they may be able to see one of them just by opening their curtains at an equally ungodly hour.

He may not be riding at quite the same intensity, but the cyclist in the distinctive red and black lycra battling tens of thousands of inebriated fans through the Alps and Pyrenees is indeed the same one passing a few disinterested cows in Lebrina and Nabowla.

Rolling through a deserted CBD, the pair pass Launceston Church Grammar rowers also beginning their sporting endeavours and assorted shift workers stocking up on hot refreshments at Rocherlea’s Spiders North.

He teams up with George Hyde, a Launceston psychiatrist who once saw Porte cycling past, seized the chance to introduce himself and now joins him once a week.

Every pedal turn is preparation for his leadership role with Cadel Evans’ old team, BMC, as Porte seeks to improve on last year’s fifth place finish in Paris.

Far from exploring Tasmania’s many varied training opportunities, the 32-year-old former Hagley Farm and St Patrick’s College student sticks to his favourite, amassing 30 loops through Lilydale, Scottsdale and back into Launceston in a six-week summer that also yielded a long-awaited victory at the Tour Down Under.

“It’s just the best loop,” Porte said.

“I don’t think you can beat Golconda and the Sideling, there’s plenty of options to do good efforts. I think it’s some of the best training in the world.”

Richie Porte is putting in the legwork for this year’s 3516-kilometre Tour de France by completing up to 1000km a week around his home state.

As they climb Finger Post hill, they are provided with a picturesque backdrop.

They take the first opportunity to farewell the log trucks, commuters and roadkill for the sort of terrain Porte believes has been pivotal to his success.

Kilometre after kilometre of rolling hills and winding corners follow as the morning sun rises with all the enthusiasm of a weekend teenager.

Ignoring the advice of the sign “Tired? Stop. Rest.”, Porte completes his “effort” and another Scottsdale loop on a global crusade he hopes will have a champagne finish.