MORZINE, France (VN) — Australian Richie Porte joined BMC Racing for a chance to win the Tour de France after working in Team Sky — and though the 2016 edition is ending “bittersweet” for him, the signs are promising.
Porte sits fifth overall at 5:17 minutes after the last mountain stage, a rain-soaked ride to Morzine over the Joux Plane. He should hold that spot when the Tour ends tomorrow with a flat stage in Paris.
After the stage, the 31-year-old slowed to a stop near BMC’s red and black team bus, where American teammate Tejay van Garderen stood nearby. He smiled, but briefly as the microphones and television cameras neared.
“It’s a bit bittersweet,” Porte said. “I sort of felt like I was throwing time away even yesterday, as well.
“I’ll move on, now I have the Olympics to look forward too and hopefully, I’ll take some good form out of this race.”
This race showed finally that Porte, after several failed attempts with Sky, could challenge for a grand tour overall.
Bad luck this year played its role in Porte’s ride. Without a puncture in stage 2 in the final five kilometers, he would have not lost 1:45 minutes to Sky leader (and Porte’s former captain) Chris Froome. Friday, a crash on the slippery roads to Le Bettex summit finish and a chase back meant that he lacked energy to sustain an attack and move to a podium spot.
The highs, however, outweighed the lows. He became BMC’s clear general classification captain with van Garderen struggling to match his fifth place from 2012 and 2014. On the summit stage to Finhaut-Emosson, Porte was the only GC contender to ride away and take on Froome.
“It does give me confidence [for the future],” Porte added. “A few times, I had a bit of bad luck, but it’s exciting for next year. I hope to come back and give it another crack and see what I can do.”
Porte and the other GC riders essentially called a cease-fire Saturday as Sky controlled the race through the wet Alpine valleys and over the steep ascents.
After his stage 19 crash, Porte preferred not to risk what he had already gained over the three weeks since the race began in Normandy.
“Every descent we did today was just dangerous and slippery,” Porte explained. “I don’t think anyone wanted to risk it, there was a lot to lose.”
The Tour de France also expects to see Porte back next year to lead BMC Racing in the overall battle.
“It could have been very different for Richie Porte without his puncture, without that he would’ve been very dangerous,” race director Christian Prudhomme said.
“Also, some people say that you can’t successfully leave team Sky to lead another team, but that’s not the case with Richie Porte. His fifth is good for the future.”