CAMBRAI, France (VN) — No will say it on the record, but all signs are pointing toward Australian Richie Porte joining Tejay van Garderen at BMC Racing for 2016.
Agents asked at the Tour de France say, “It’s a done deal.” Porte’s own agent, Andrew McQuaid, is not allowed to report such a move until August 1, due to UCI rules.
“Richie has been one of the stand-out riders of the year,” McQuaid told VeloNews, “so of course there are teams interested in him.”
Team Sky general manager David Brailsford said he could not talk about contracts due to the rules.
Sky signed Porte in 2012 after he rode with Alberto Contador at Saxo Bank. He helped both Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome win the Tour de France. Sky could renew his contact and announce the decision at any point, but if Porte is moving on, such an announcement would not come until August 1 as per cycling’s rules.
The indications are that Porte or BMC Racing could make such a statement as soon as they can. BMC Racing, when asked, would not comment on the possible move. They do want a new rider to complement American van Garderen, however.
“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,” BMC Racing’s team manager, Jim Ochowicz told VeloNews.
“We do so many races in a year. We need a couple of people who can handle those races because that’s what we are there for — to win. In any WorldTour race, we need to have a GC rider in the mix because it keeps [us] in the race mentally and physically.”
BMC Racing is developing Australian Rohan Dennis, who won the Tour’s opening time trial, to become a grand tour rider, but that could still take a couple of years.
Porte, 30, from Tasmania, already won Paris-Nice twice, the Volta a Catalunya, and the Giro del Trentino — all short stage races, around one week long. This year, Sky sent him to the Giro d’Italia as leader, but he crashed and abandoned.
He placed seventh in his first Giro in 2010 and won the young rider competition. In the 2013 Tour, he placed 19th.
BMC would have to decide if they would send him to the Giro or to the Tour alongside van Garderen, 26, who twice finished fifth overall. Ochowicz said they could manage two stage race captains in the team.
“It’s all speculation, how we manage it,” he said. “We managed it OK with Cadel Evans and Tejay [van Garderen] for a couple of years. Right now it works fine, Damiano Caruso did the Giro, and now he’s at the Tour to help.”
Astana team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli may know best. He worked with two captains this season, sending Fabio Aru to the Giro and Vincenzo Nibali to the Tour.
“In almost all the teams now, there is more than one leader. The most important thing is to have clear ideas right away,” Martinelli told VeloNews
“If you take on Porte, for sure, you have to give him his space to compete; you can’t take him on to be a worker for van Garderen. You have to give him his space.
“Richie Porte has shown to this point that he has the ability to win smaller stage races, which are important, but in the grand tours, he’s a little penalized, there are four or five better than him now. He didn’t prepare well this year for the Giro. You can’t race and try to win every weeklong stage race and then try to win the Giro.”
“If he was in Astana, I’d like that he continues to win Paris-Nice, País Vasco, these types of races, because he’s more adapted to those races.”
Ochowicz did not name Porte, but explained that he wants someone with his exact talents.
“We’ve been missing it in a lot of smaller stage races where we need a GC guy to carry the ball,” Ochowicz said. “Those riders are not necessarily grand tour riders, but once who can do one-week races efficiently.”
It would not be the case of two cooks in the kitchen. Ochowicz added that any rider they sign to fill that role would have to be able to work alongside and divide the calendar with their current classification man, van Garderen.