Richie Porte enters his ninth Tour de France believing the world's biggest annual sporting event owes him a break.
Despite a decade of impressive WorldTour results, Olympic and world championship campaigns and a succession of big contracts, the Launceston 34-year-old has not enjoyed the best fortune on the sport's biggest stage.
His best result was fifth in 2016 and his best stage finishes were second places in 2013 and '15 before a team time trial success in 2018.
But after crashing out in bone-breaking fashion on stage 9 of the last two Tours, Porte enters this year's race at the same age Cadel Evans was when he became the only Australian champion in 2011 and desperate to deliver in Paris.
In a series of exclusive interviews to run in The Examiner this week, Porte opens up about the legacy of his horrific accidents, the unprecedented brutality of this year's Tour course and who he believes are the main contenders after injuries accounted for four-time winner Chris Froome and last year's runner-up Tom Dumoulin.
Speaking from a training camp high in the Alps before heading to the Belgian capital Brussels for next Sunday's Grand Depart, Porte began by assessing his own chances.
"I do feel it owes me a good one," he said.
"The Tour has been so good to me in some ways but this year is probably going to be one of the last years for me to get a good result.
"Every year I go to the Tour it seems like something out of the ordinary happens, so it would be nice to just go and have a straight forward race and show what I'm made of.
"I don't want another August spent in bed. I just want to get to Paris in one piece.
"It would just be nice to get past stage 9 where it has ended for me in the last couple of years."
"Even when I was fifth I still had a badly-timed puncture that cost me a couple of minutes and also crashed into the back of a motorbike on Mont Ventoux when three of us were away and going to take time on the others.
"This year I'm not one of the big favourites because my season has been so interrupted everyone seems to have forgotten I exist, which is fine for me.
"All the guys winning races early in the season, that's normally what I do, and turning up at the Tour hoping to still have legs in the last week."
"The key for me is to try and stay healthy. I got a cold three weeks ago but the weight is good," he said.
"At the Dauphine, I expected more going in. I was in pretty good shape but I got sick before it started.
"We were riding through torrential downpours and it was absolutely freezing. A lot of guys got colds and gastro. I think I came out of it getting healthier."
Despite approaching veteran status, Porte maintains he is a genuine contender over the 21 stages and 3460 kilometres having been named in a Trek-Segafredo team with the support of Bauke Mollema, Julien Bernard, Giulio Ciccone, Koen de Kort, Fabio Felline, Toms Skujins and Jasper Stuyven.
"I would not be bothering to go there if I did not feel I had some chance," he said.
"And having had the season I've had so far it's been disappointing but I know I've done the work on and off the bike. I've dotted the 'i's and crossed the 't's and I'm hopeful that this year can be my year.
"For me, success would be the podium. That would be huge. And if I have a good race and can find my form then why not go for it?"
- TOMORROW: Porte reflects on the long-term impact of his catalogue of cycling injuries
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