By Gregor Brown published
BMC Racing will give Richie Porte a specific programme designed at winning the Tour de France next summer. The American team, which signed Porte after he spent years helping Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in team Sky, said that it could make the difference in Porte's career.
Porte raced for Sky for the last four years and helped Wiggins and Froome win the Tour de France. When given his own chance to lead, bad luck or illness stopped the Australian from enjoying similar success.
"You won't see him in the Giro [d'Italia], that's one thing," Team BMC's general manager, Jim Ochowicz told Cycling Weekly.
"That preparation to get to the Giro becomes a big endeavour. By eliminating the Giro, the focus gets to the Tour. The recon, the training camps, the equipment selection... All those items change.
The timeline is later, as well. How you approach the start and how you build into the season is going to be different.
"Comparing 2016 to 2015, it's going to be a change for him."
Porte led Team Sky in the Giro in May this year, but abandoned in the second week after crashes took their toll. He returned to help Froome to his second Tour title, which included protecting his captain through the last mountain stage to Alpe d'Huez when rival Nairo Quintana launched an attack to gain back time.
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In 2014, Porte's early season preparations were again centred around the Italian Grand Tour. However, after falling sick in the spring, he had to cancel his plan to lead team Sky.
Despite his bad luck in the grand tours, the 30-year-old from Tasmania collected stage race wins all around Europe. This spring, he won the Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro del Trentino tours.
"If you are going to go to the Giro, you have to take it as seriously as the Tour, and people do. It's time consuming," added Ochowicz. "There are certain races you want to do for the Giro and certain ones for the Tour."
Ochowicz said that Porte is a potential Grand Tour winner.
"We are dealing with someone who has a lot of experience, doesn't need a lot of extra hand-holding. He's not a neo-pro and doesn't have to figure out his lifestyle and racing ambitions.
"It's clear, he's a GC rider, a good climber, time trialist, a good team time trial rider - all the categories that we like to see someone in," Ochowicz continued.
"He's demonstrated good leadership in races and being successful. We think he can do that here as well. We have a strong team to back him up. We think the training and the coaching, and the direction will potentially help him become a better athlete."
Porte will co-captain BMC's Tour team with Tejay van Garderen if everything goes according to plan. Ochowicz said that they will race together in some events to being to understand each other in action, but also separately to get that needed winning edge.
"The Tour is the pinnacle, but we can't just show up to the Tour without having done something beforehand. We are looking for wins early on from both of them. That's important for the psychology going into the Tour, to maintain your position in the peloton and in your group.
"If you want to be a Tour de France contender, you can't just show up without having done something. We are expecting to see results right from the start with both of them."
Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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