Reigning Australian national time trial champion Richie Porte will be part of the BMC Racing Team for the 2016 season, General Manager Jim Ochowicz announced in a press release on Saturday.
“We officially welcome Richie to the BMC Racing Team,” Ochowicz said. “Richie’s addition to our roster for next year adds extra muscle and a wealth of experience. It also gives us the chance to separate and/or unite our strategies and goals as we see fit throughout the season.”
Porte, 30, has won nine races this season, including the overall titles at Paris-Nice, the Giro del Trentino and Volta a Catalunya. Ranked fifth in the UCI WorldTour rider standings, he most recently helped Chris Froome (Team Sky) win the Tour de France. Porte has been integral to one other Tour de France win of Froome’s, and also helped Bradley Wiggins to victory at the same race in 2012. Now it’s time for his own chances as a Grand Tour leader.
“I was close to coming to the BMC Racing Team four years ago,” Porte said. “This time, it was a hard decision, but the right decision. Obviously, Cadel left his legacy with the team. When he was racing, it was almost like it was partially an Australian team. There were always so many Aussies at the races with BMC caps on. With them still having Rohan Dennis and Campbell Flakemore – who is from Tasmania like me – the team still does have a fairly Australian flavor.”
Porte said his objectives for next year are straight-forward: to keep his winning ways going.
“I want to win races like Paris-Nice and Catalunya again and I think next year at the Tour de France, why not have Tejay van Garderen and me there? We get along well,” he said. “It is exciting to be going to a team where I am going to have so many opportunities for myself to win races.”
Last month at the Tour de France Porte confirmed to SBS that it was cycling’s worst-kept secret that he was leaving Team Sky at the end of the year.
“I’ve got to take my own opportunities,” Porte said.
“I’ve won Paris-Nice and Catalunya this year, and had my big opportunity in the Giro, which didn’t quite got to plan,” he said.
“But I’m ready, I’m in the prime of my career now the next few years, so I need to go and lead a team.”
“You don’t take it lightly, leaving a team like Sky. In a lot of ways, it’s the best team for Grand Tour racing, but I need to think about my future.”
As has been the case in recent years, Porte is likely to get limited chances to lead Sky during Grand Tours. Several teams appear to have offered him that possibility.
“In any other team, bar three or four, I would actually be the Tour leader,” he said. “But that’s certainly something I’m really looking at now. I do have opportunities to go and try my luck in another team. The next couple of years, I’m going to be as strong as I physically can be.”
Estimates place Porte’s market value close to two million Euro.