SYDNEY (AFP) — Australian star Richie Porte says he will leave Team Sky at the end of the year to pursue his dreams of grand tour success elsewhere.
Porte is in the final year of his contract with the British super-team and there has long been speculation the 30-year-old wanted out.
He confirmed his plans following the Tour de France’s 28-kilometer team time trial from Vannes to Plumelec Sunday.
“It’s my last Tour de France with Team Sky, and I want to finish on a high with my mate Chris Froome,” Porte told Australia’s SBS Television late Sunday after stage 9, won by BMC.
“I think it’s the worst-kept secret in the world. I’ve got to take my own opportunities,” he added.
After four years at Sky, Porte is one of the biggest names in this year’s transfer market and has been linked to BMC. Etixx-Quick-Step has also reportedly shown interest, and Orica-GreenEdge is on the lookout for a general classification rider.
Porte is in Sky’s team for the Tour de France but as a key domestique for Froome, who has tightened his grip on the yellow jersey heading into the second week. Porte acknowledged he would have much more opportunity to lead a grand tour outfit elsewhere. He played crucial roles when Bradley Wiggins won the 2012 Tour and Froome took the title the following year.
“I’ve won Paris-Nice and Catalunya this year, and had my big opportunity in the Giro, which didn’t quite go to plan,” he said. “But I’m ready, I’m in the prime of my career now the next few years, so I need to go and lead a team.” Two months ago, Porte led Sky at the Giro d’Italia after starting the season in outstanding form. But after a strong start to the Italian grand tour, his race fell apart following a controversial two-minute penalty for accepting a replacement wheel from compatriot and Orica-GreenEdge rider Simon Clarke. Porte eventually abandoned the race because of injuries from a crash.