Portal says the preparation for the next Tour starts on the journey to the final stage of the Tour that’s just coming to an end.
“Okay, you’re not planning anything, really, but every year, when I’m travelling to Paris for the final stage I do a quick overview because everything is fresh in our minds. You think about what went well, what went badly or wrong and you need to learn from. It’s important to remember what we think the key factors in the race were and not let them disappear or be forgotten.
“When everything calms down a bit in September and October you start thinking properly about the feedback from the last Tour. Then, once you have the final tracks for the next race, you start creating the new Tour plan. You try to identify what the challenges will be and the differences from the last race. Whether there are Sky’s Portal, Froome and Brailsford have proven to be all but unbeatable at the Tour more flat stages, medium mountains or climbs will start to have an impact on the rough selection and what sort of training some of the guys will be doing when the new season starts. By December, 15 or 16 guys will know if they’re on the long list for the Tour.
“This year the big challenges were how to manage the Ventoux and the Ardèche time trial on consecutive days, and the really hard final week where there was not one easy day. Obviously we didn’t want to be chasing time in the final week so we needed to be good in the beginning and still fresh enough in the third week to maintain position.
“At home I have a look at Google Street View and know about the climbing, so you don’t need to drive the parcours to know what’s coming. When I have the GPX tracks from ASO I convert everything into another programme and I can start to study the course.”
“I try to visit as many stages as possible. After the Dubai Tour I flew into Brussels and drove a team car to Normandy to check out the two opening stages”