By Gregor Brown
Richie Porte, who helped Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome to their Tour de France titles, will leave team Sky at the end of the 2015 season. During the Tour yesterday, he explained that he wants more leadership opportunities.
The 30-year-old Australian did not say, but he is expected to join BMC Racing alongside Tejay van Garderen and Rohan Dennis.
"It's been no secret how much I want to see how far I can go as a Grand Tour contender, and in recent weeks there has been a lot of speculation about my future at Team Sky," Porte said in a diary with the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Yes, it's true… I am leaving the team. I'm going. But it's important to know that I'm leaving the team on really good terms.
"At 30 years of age, I feel I am at the optimal period of my career and I really want to make a fist of leading a team regularly."
Porte rode with Alberto Contador at Saxo Bank in 2010 and 2011. He wore the pink jersey, won the white jersey of best young rider and placed seventh overall in his first Grand Tour, the 2010 Giro d'Italia.
With Sky, he delivered Wiggins and Froome to their wins in 2012 and 2013, respectively, and had chances of his own. Due to sickness, he had to skip last year's opportunity to lead the Giro d'Italia team and in 2015, he abandoned the Giro after a crash.
Even without the Giro win, the season has been one of his best with overall victories in the Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice and the Giro del Trentino. Yesterday, in the team time trial, he helped Sky place second and Froome keep his yellow jersey.
"To have ridden for Bradley Wiggins when he won the Tour in 2012 and then for Froomey in 2013 when he won was fantastic. Now, I am at the 2015 Tour, facing a chance to do it again for Froomey," Porte said.
"The rider I am in the future will always be a by-product of four years of development at Team Sky.
When I joined Team Sky they put forward a terrific programme designed towards me working to the chance of one day leading the team in a Grand Tour."
BMC Racing would not comment on Porte's arrival as cycling rules say teams may not chase riders and sign contracts before August 1. Team manager, Jim Ochowicz explained he wants a rider to complement 26-year-old American van Garderen.
"We want some more climbers, we know that, we can feel it, it'd be nice to have someone else who can carry the GC, but maybe not in a Grand Tour, but in smaller ones like Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico," Ochowicz said.
Asked about managing two Grand Tour leaders who want to race the Tour, he added, "We managed it OK with Cadel Evans and Tejay for a couple of years."
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