BMC fights on but change strategy after losing Richie Porte

Van Avermaet and Caruso take up leadership roles

The BMC Racing riders head towards the Pyrenees with different goals and a different mood after losing team leader Richie Porte from the Tour de France due to his high-speed crash on the descent of the Mont du Chat during Sunday's mountain stage.

The US-registered WorldTour team has been forced to quickly to brush off any sadness and disappointment about losing a chance at Tour de France victory and have set new goals for the remainder of the race.

Damiano Caruso will take over Porte's role as protected rider for the overall classification, while the other riders, including Greg Van Avermaet, will have total freedom to chase stage victories. Van Avermaet is now the de facto team leader due to his status as a Classics winner and Olympic champion. The likes of Nicolas Roche, Alessandro De Marchi, Stefan Kung all have the ability to win important stages in the days to come.

Porte was arguably Chris Froome's biggest rival at this year's Tour de France but his race ended when he crashed at 70kph on the twisting descent, fracturing his hip and right collarbone. He has been transferred to hospital in Monaco, but will be off the bike for several weeks and is unlikely to be competitive in major races for the rest of the season. 

"We've lost our team leader and our north star after Richie crashed out. Now it's a totally different Tour your for us," Caruso told Cyclingnews.

"I've spoken to Richie on the phone. He was obviously very disappointed but the most important thing for him now is to recover quickly and fully and return. He tried to fire us up and asked us to win for him. That's what we're going to do."

The BMC used the rest day in the Dordogne to recalibrate and try to move on the losing their team leader and their major goal for the race.

"We suffered a big blow losing Richie but the rest day was a chance to reflect on our race, reset, focus on new goals and bounce back," explained Caruso, who is 16th in the general classification at 6:58.

"I'll perhaps try to stay well placed overall for as long as possible and even try to move up. This is the Tour de France and so we have to respect the race and do as well as we can. My teammates will have more room to try to win a stage and so will I. We'll try to do as well as we can."

Every hilly stage will be like a Classic for Van Avermaet

Van Avermaet was forced to accept a secondary role as Porte and BMC targeted the yellow jersey. Now the Olympic champion can ride every hilly stage as if it's a Classic. In 2015, he beat Peter Sagan in Rodez to win his first ever Tour de France stage. This year's race finishes there on stage 14.

"The goal of our team was to win a Classic and to stand on the podium of the Tour de France. The latter will not happen anymore. We have lost our team leader but I've already proved that I can save the Tour for BMC. I will try to do it this year too," Van Avermaet told the Belgian media.

"I have to prove myself on the stages I've indicated. The only advantage now is that I've got some teammates to help me, especially for the stage to Rodez on Saturday. We can't miss out there." 

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