Porte leaves Sky ‘ Ready to go and lead a team’

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - SAM ED­MUND

AUS­TRALIAN cy­cling star Richie Porte has con­firmed he will leave Team Sky af­ter the Tour de France, with spec­u­la­tion he will join Cadel Evans’ for­mer squad, BMC Rac­ing.

Porte ( right) said the time had come to ditch the sup­port role he’s held at the pow­er­ful Bri­tish out­fit for four years and be­come a Grand Tour leader at a ri­val team.

“Ob­vi­ously, it’s my last Tour de France with Team Sky and I want to fin­ish on a high with my mate Chris Froome,” Porte said af­ter the 28km Stage 9 team time trial from Vannes to Plum­elec. The Tas­ma­nian told News Corp Aus­tralia as far back as De­cem­ber 2013 he would leave Sky this year.

“I think the next move for me is two more years at Sky but then I re­ally think I need to get out and ride in a team where I’ll be the leader,” Porte said at the time. “For me, the dream is to win a Grand Tour, any Grand Tour.”

The 30- year- old said on Sun­day night his im­pend­ing Sky exit was “the worst- kept se­cret in the world”.

“I’ve got to take my own op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Porte said. “I’ve won Paris- Nice and Catalunya this year and had my big op­por­tu­nity in the Giro this year, which didn’t quite go to plan.

“But I’m ready, I’m in the prime of my ca­reer now in the next few years and I need to go and lead a team.”

Porte has proven him­self as a chief do­mes­tique, help­ing Brad Wiggins win the Tour in 2012 and pi­lot­ing Froome to glory in 2013.

An ex­cel­lent 2015 sea­son, in which he also won the Giro del Trentino, only took a hit when a con­tro­ver­sial time penalty and bad crash saw him aban­don the Giro d’Italia.

Riders and man­agers are pro­hib­ited from an­nounc­ing any moves un­til Au­gust 1 un­der UCI rules. But BMC, with Aus­tralians Allan Peiper ( sport­ing man­ager) and ris­ing tal­ent Rohan Dennis, have been chas­ing Porte for years.

Etixx- Quick- Step is also in con­tention to se­cure Porte’s sig­na­ture, while Ori­caGreenEDGE is tar­get­ing a gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion rider.

The US- based BMC has Amer­i­can Te­jay van Garderen as its GC con­tender and Etixx- Quick- Step like­wise with Rigoberto Uran but more and more teams are em­ploy­ing two lead­ers.

As­tana boast reign­ing Tour champ Vin­cenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru, who fin­ished run­ner- up in May’s Giro.

There would be teams with more ob­vi­ous lead­er­ship open­ings but BMC have a strong sup­port squad and Porte could split the cal­en­dar with van Garderen.

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