No more following the leader for cyclist Richie Porte
AFTER spending four years helping Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome win the Tour de France three times between them, Aussie rider Richie Porte is set to become a contender for the title for the first time in 2016.
The Tasmanian let slip after the team trial on stage nine of this year's race he would be leaving Team Sky to pursue the chance to be a team leader in his own right.
"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," the 30-year-old said.
Porte played a crucial role in helping Froome win the race for the second time, particularly on the gruelling climb up Alpe d'Huez on the penultimate stage when second placegetter Nairo Quintana launched an attack that left the Brit stuggling.
"If I'd been left on my own when Quintana left, who knows how much time I'd have lost?" Froome said after his triumphant ride up the Champs Elysees.
"He (Porte) saved the day for me, quite literally."
UCI rules do not allow riders to discuss transfers until August 1, but the Aussie has been strongly linked to American outfit BMC Racing.
That was the team Cadel Evans rode with in 2011 when he made history by becoming the first Australian to win cycling's most famous race.
BMC was led by Tejay Van Garderen this year, but the American pulled out during stage 17 with a severe cold after starting the day in third place.
Porte's CV would make him an ideal target for any team looking for a ready-made contender, particularly the Australian-owned Orica-GreenEDGE outfit.
But Orica has so far preferred to develop its own talent, rather than paying top dollar for an established competitor.
This year it had a disastrous start to the race, losing team captain Simon Gerrans (broken wrist) and Daryl Impey (broken collarbone) after a crash on stage three, and Michael Albanisi (broken arm) following a pile-up on stage five.
Porte wasn't giving anything away after the ride into Paris, saying only he had loved his time with Team Sky.
"I've had a great four years here, I've got some really good friends here, but I feel like it is time to move on, as sad as that is," he said.
Froome, on the other hand, said he wasn't going anywhere, adding he hoped to set the bar even higher in years to come.
"Winning it once was unbelievable," the 30-year-old, who crashed out on stage five last year, said.
"To come back to repeat that and to confirm that last victory, to show that I'm no less hungry than before, hopefully it also shows my mindset, that I'm not in this for the short term," he added.
- General classification Chris Froome
- King of the Mountains (Chris Froome)
- Sprinter's jersey (Peter Sagan)
- Best young rider (Nairo Quintana)
- Team winner (Movistar)