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In what was one of cycling’s worst-kept secrets, Richie Porte will join BMC Racing in 2016.
Team officials confirmed Saturday what had already been widely reported. The 30-year-old Tasmanian will join BMC to lead in one-week stage races and present the team with an additional card for the grand tours.
“We officially welcome Richie to the BMC Racing Team,” BMC’s manager Jim Ochowicz said in a team release. “Richie’s addition to our roster for next year adds extra muscle and a wealth of experience. It also gives us the chance to separate and/or unite our strategies and goals as we see fit throughout the season.”
Porte leaves Team Sky after four seasons, where he emerged as a loyal lieutenant to Chris Froome, as well as a GC contender in his own right. Porte was key to Froome’s second Tour de France victory last month, and won several races earlier in the season, including Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya, and the Giro del Trentino.
Porte said the team’s strong Australian legacy helped him make his decision to leave the powerful Sky organization.
“I was close to coming to the BMC Racing Team four years ago,” Porte said. “This time, it was a hard decision, but the right decision. Obviously, Cadel [Evans] left his legacy with the team. When he was racing, it was almost like it was partially an Australian team. There were always so many Aussies at the races with BMC caps on. With them still having Rohan Dennis and Campbell Flakemore — who is from Tasmania like me — the team still does have a fairly Australian flavor.”
Porte does not appear to expect any tension at BMC with team captain Tejay van Garderen. The American was linked to a possible move to Trek Factory Racing, but all of the major players denied that would be happening for next season.
“I want to win races like Paris-Nice and Catalunya again. And I think next year at the Tour de France, why not have Tejay and me there? We get along well,” he said. “It is exciting to be going to a team where I am going to have so many opportunities for myself to win races.”
Porte’s announcement was one of the most highly anticipated ahead of the official transfer season that opened August 1. Teams will be revealing more moves in the coming days.