BMC throws weight behind Porte in race for yellow
It’s all in for a podium push at BMC Racing for Richie Porte in what could be the team’s final Tour de France next month.
The recently crowned Tour de Suisse winner will see solid backing across all terrain as BMC races to reach the final podium as well as secure its financial future.
Two-time top-5 finisher Tejay van Garderen will slot into a helper’s role while American franchise rider Brent Bookwalter missed out on a spot among the team’s eight-rider roster.
“The Tour de France team selection is never easy but I think we have chosen seven strong and motivated riders to support Richie Porte,” said BMC sport director Fabio Baldato. “I think we have chosen eight well-rounded riders for the three weeks of racing.”
Porte, 33, is hoping to better his career-best fifth from the 2016 Tour and climb onto the final podium in Paris. Last year, Porte was looking to be in great form but crashed out in a horrific spill in the Alps.
The team brings a mix of brawn and experience to help Porte survive the challenging first nine days. Riders like van Garderen and Damiano Caruso will help in the mountains. Tour stage-winner Greg Van Avermaet will have his chances in stages that suit his style of racing. Otherwise, it’s a full-team push for Porte to Paris.
“I’m ready for the Tour de France. Winning the Tour de Suisse was a big boost to my confidence,” Porte said. “I would love to stand on the podium in Paris. As we saw last year, anything can happen so as cliché as it sounds, I really will be taking things day by day, week by week.”
BMC Racing will be one of the favorites to win the team time trial in stage 3. Even with the absence of Rohan Dennis, who raced the Giro d’Italia, Stefan Küng, Michael Schär, van Garderen, and Patrick Bevin should give Porte a huge motor in the team race against the clock and could push someone from BMC into the yellow jersey.
Stage 9 across the pavé will also present a chance for a win for 2017 Paris-Roubaix winner Van Avermaet.
Once in the mountains, Porte will count on van Garderen and Caruso to help pace him on the demanding second half of the Tour.
The pressure will be notched up even more as BMC faces an uncertain financial future. Team management continues to hunt for new backers to take over the title sponsorship. Going into the Tour, there is no official word if the team will continue next season. Media reports have suggested that marquee riders Van Avermaet and Porte could already be close to joining new teams for 2019.
Team boss Jim Ochowicz said the team also wants to pay tribute to longtime backer Andy Rihs, who died this spring.
“This is a group effort with a clear focus,” Ochowicz said. “My confidence in our staff and riders has never been at such an elevated level since 2011.”