BMC 'all in' for Porte with Tour de France line-up

Van Avermaet free to hunt stages in team otherwise dedicated to Porte

BMC Racing have announced its line-up for the Tour de France, with the team going "all in" for leader Richie Porte.

Paris-Roubaix champion Greg Van Avermaet has the freedom to chase a third stage win in as many years, but otherwise the nine-man team is geared around Porte's bid for a first Grand Tour title.

As well as delivering Porte to Paris in the yellow jersey, the US-registered team hopes to take it on the opening day, with Stefan Küng a bona fide contender for the 14km time trial in Dusseldorf on July 1. There was a possibility that Rohan Dennis, who took yellow on the opening day of the 2015 Tour, might come back to try to repeat the feat but despite being forced out of the Giro d'Italia by an early crash, the Australian is sticking to the plan that excluded July.

Porte, for the first time in his career, will have a Grand Tour team built around him. After serving as a super domestique for Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins at Team Sky, the Tasmanian made the switch to BMC last year but leadership at the Tour de France was shared, nominally at least, with Tejay van Garderen. This year the American was sent to the Giro d'Italia, while all the eggs were placed in Porte's basket. Thus far he has delivered on the responsibility with a fine run of form.

Greg Van Avermaet, the team's Classics star who enjoyed an impeccable spring, is the one rider with freedom to leave Porte's side. After tasting success in each of the past two editions of the Tour – last year also brought a spell in yellow – he will once again hunt stages in the medium mountains.

"We are going all in for Richie. All nine of our riders are coming to the Tour de France in good condition and we have a strong team. When we started planning for the Tour de France in December last year, these were the nine riders we had in mind," said directeur sportif Fabio Baldato, who has worked closely with Porte this season.

"Our absolute priority is the general classification with Richie Porte but in Greg Van Avermaet we have the Olympic champion, two-time Tour de France stage winner and wearer of the yellow jersey in 2016, so we would love to see Greg win another stage when the conditions are right and Richie is safe."

Backing from Roche and Caruso in the mountains

Porte explained in an exclusive podcast interview with Cyclingnews earlier this month how he has gone about assembling a core group of domestiques since making the switch from Team Sky.

Nico Roche, a former Team Sky colleague, will provide road captain duties as well as being one of the last men with Porte on the key GC stages, along with Italy's Damiano Caruso, who showcased his form by finishing runner-up at the Tour de Suisse.

Kung, Danilo Wyss, Michael Schär, Alessandro De Marchi and Amael Moinard will provide the rest of the backing.

"We expect Damiano Caruso and Nicolas Roche to be the last two teammates with Richie in the big mountains," added Baldato.

"We have riders like Alessandro De Marchi and Amaël Moinard who will be crucial before and between the medium mountains. For the flat stages when the race is fast and difficult, we have our rouleurs; Stefan Küng, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet and Danilo Wyss. These are the riders who will protect Richie and bring him to the line safely."

A true candidate for the maillot jaune

Over the course of this season, Porte has set out his credentials as a true candidate for the maillot jaune, despite never having finished on the podium of a Grand Tour. While three-time champion Chris Froome hasn't yet won a race in 2017, Porte has won the Tour Down Under and Tour de Romandie, and finished runner-up at the Critérium du Dauphiné, pushing him almost neck-and-neck with Froome in the eyes of the bookmakers.

"I am definitely a mix of excited and nervous," said Porte in BMC's line-up announcement.

"You can't deny that the Tour de France is the biggest goal of the season, but that means it's also another level of stress. It's a balance of being well-prepared and fresh enough to race at the highest level across 21 stages, but I feel like I'm in that position now. I'm just really looking forward to rolling out for the time trial next Saturday in Dusseldorf and then having a good three weeks of racing until we reach Paris."

BMC for the Tour de France: Damiano Caruso (Ita), Alessandro De Marchi (Ita), Stefan Küng (Swi), Amaël Moinard (Fra), Richie Porte (Aus), Nicolas Roche (Irl), Michael Schär (Swi), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel), Danilo Wyss (Swi). 

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