BMC Racing back Richie Porte in pursuit of Tour de France podium

Van Garderen, Van Avermaet, Caruso, Kung and Gerrans in strong eight-rider squad

The BMC Racing Team have named a strong and experienced team they hope will help Richie Porte fight for a place on the final podium at the Tour de France.

Porte finished fifth in 2016 but crashed out last year on the descent to Chambery. However he won the recent Tour de Suisse and is considered one of the overall contenders for this year’s race along with Chris Froome (Team Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale).

The future of the BMC Racing team is uncertain due to a lack of title sponsors for 2019, with Porte set to joinTrek Segafredo, according to a report by Cyclingnews. However the team has strong Grand Tour credentials, with Tejay van Garderen and Damiano Caruso selected to support Porte. Also in the final eight-rider line-up are Greg Van Avermaet, Australian veteran Simon Gerrans, the Swiss duo of Michael Schär and Stefan Küng, and Kiwi time trialist Patrick Bevin.

Van Garderen finished fifth overall in the 2012 and 2014 Tour de France, while Caruso was 11th at the 2017 Tour de France.

Van Avermaet will have the freedom to target stage victories, while Kung, Schär and Bevin will make BMC Racing the favourites to win the stage 3 team time trial in Cholet and so give Porte a time advantage on many of his overall rivals. Van Avermaet and Kung will also play a vital role on the cobbled stage to Roubaix.

"I'm ready for the Tour de France,” Porte said when the team was confirmed.

“Winning the Tour de Suisse was a big boost to my confidence, not only on a personal level knowing I wasn't yet in my best shape but also for the team. The guys were fantastic there and the fact that our Tour de France team is comprised more or less of the same riders, with the addition of Damiano Caruso and Paddy Bevin, is really motivating. After a solid training camp at altitude, I will arrive in the Vendée region knowing I have done everything I can to prepare for the Tour de France."

"I would love to stand on the podium in Paris. As we saw last year, anything can happen so as cliché as it sounds, I really will be taking things day by day, week by week. As controlled as the Tour de France is compared to other races, it's a bike race and with that comes a lot of unpredictability. I think we have a great team, it's generally a good course for me, and I'm excited to start racing."

Racing for Andy Rihs

Van Avermaet won Tour de France stages in 2015 and 2016 and has his eye on multiple stages this year. Like Porte, he is widely expected to decide his future before travelling to France, this could be with a reshaped and rebranded BMC team or with a different WorldTour team.

"I am motivated, as always, to do my best at the Tour de France and my personal ambition is to win another stage, as well as working for the team and achieving the team objective of putting Richie on the podium,” the Olympic champion said.

“We always want to do well in a team time trial so stage 3 will definitely be a big goal for us, and of course it will be special to ride the cobbles on stage 9. The Tour de France is unlike any other race and I think we have a great team, so I am looking forward to getting started next week."

BMC Racing team manager Jim Ochowicz paid tribute to the late team owner, Andy Rihs, whose memory will serve as extra motivation at the Tour de France.

"This is a group effort with a clear focus. My confidence in our staff and riders has never been at such an elevated level since 2011. We will be racing this Tour de France in the memory of Andy Rihs to thank him for his 12 years of faith and support," Ochowicz said.

BMC Racing for the 2018 Tour de France: Patrick Bevin (Nzl), Damiano Caruso (Ita), Simon Gerrans (Aus), Stefan Küng (Sui), Richie Porte (Aus), Michael Schär (Sui), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel), Tejay van Garderen (Usa).

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