Richie Porte admits he could leave Team Sky at the end of the year, confirming he is talking with other teams, as well as his current employers, to ensure his future as a Grand Tour leader.
Porte joined Sky in 2012 and has helped both Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome to their Tour de France victories. The 30-year-old Australian has had chances of his own, like in the Giro d'Italia this May, but bad luck and illness has scuppered his chances of contending in three-week races.
If Porte renews with Sky, the team could announce his new contract immediately. If he signed for a new team then the announcement would not come until August, due to cycling's rules. The rules read that a contracted rider may not sign for a new team until August 1.
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"Richie has been one of the stand out riders of the year, so of course there are teams interested in him," his agent, Andrew McQuaid told Cycling Weekly.
"It must be said he is very happy in team Sky and has had four great years there. Right now, Richie is focused on the Tour and helping his good friend Chris Froome win it. We will sit down after the Tour, go through his options and make some decisions then.”
In the lead up to the Giro d'Italia this year, Porte won the Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro del Trentino stage races. Regardless of crashing and abandoning the Giro after two weeks, he is one of cycling's top stage racers.
"I'm very confident, I have a few really good offers in great teams," Porte told the Australian Associated Press.
"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.
"In any other team, bar three or four, I would actually be the Tour leader. But that's certainly something I'm really looking at now."
BMC Racing, who won the Tour with Cadel Evans in 2011, appears to be top on the list if Porte leaves. The team is racing the Tour this month with Tejay van Garderen, who is also out of contract at the end of the year.
"We have always had an interest in Richie," BMC Racing's general manager, Jim Ochowicz told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"He is certainly one of many, many riders up in the market place that are available. He has been shopping around. We have been shopping around. Have our paths crossed [with his management]? Yes … but that's all I can say."
Sky has not commented on Porte's future in the lead up to the Tour. In early May, ahead of the Giro, team manager David Brailsford indicated that he wanted to keep Porte.
"He's been with us quite a long time, he's been great for us, he's been a fantastic team-mate to Bradley and Chris and deserves his own chance,” said Brailsford.
“I'd like to continue with him, I'd like to think it's just a matter of time [for renewing his contract], that it's a question of when rather than if."
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