TASMANIAN cyclist Richie Porte aims to end his phenomenal season on another high this week.
A campaign which has already seen the Hadspen sensation win the prestigious Paris-Nice stage race and lead his Sky teammates to a second successive Tour de France title will be wrapped up with the Tour of Beijing, which begins today.
As leader of the World Tour benchmark outfit in the 836-kilometre, five-stage tour, Porte will take to the start line as one of the pre- race general classification favourites.
"The team's got pressure on me but it's been a long season," said Porte, who also finished runner-up at the Criterium du Dauphine this year.
"I'm pretty honest with where I am with them but we'll see what happens.
"For the end of season I don't think that my shape's too bad. I'll take it as it comes."
The 28-year-old will be supported by David Lopez, Ian Boswell, Joe Dombrowski, Josh Edmondson, Bernhard Eisel and compatriot Mathew Hayman, a 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist making his final appearance for Sky before moving to Orica-GreenEDGE.
"Lopez is in quite good form," Porte told cyclingcentral. "Bernie and Hayman are always in good condition. Josh Edmondson, our young neo- pro, to be honest he's probably the most underrated neo-pro this year. He's been absolutely brilliant. In the future he's going to be a big rider."
The last event on the UCI WorldTour calendar will have the most challenging course in its short history, featuring a fourth-stage mountain-top finish plus the traditional finale from Tiananmen Square to the Bird's Nest Olympic stadium in central Bejing.
Joining Porte will be fellow Tasmanians Cameron Wurf, 30, of Hobart, who is in the Cannondale team led by Ivan Basso, and Flowery Gully's Wes Sulzberger, 26, who continues his return from a broken collarbone sustained in the Vuelta a Espana in an Orica- GreenEDGE team, which will look to Cameron Meyer and Michael Matthews for stage wins.
Reigning champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma- Quick Step) is also among a strong field but will be held back by the lack of a time trial stage this year.
Tasmanian cycling received another significant boost this week with the news that Launceston veteran Karl Menzies had signed up for another year with US-based professional continental outfit UnitedHealthcare.
The team's 2014 23-rider roster remains much as it was this year when it dominated the USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar, winning the team title and claiming the top four individual rankings through 36-year-old Menzies, compatriot Hilton Clarke plus Carlos Alzate and Luke Keough.