Peiper confident that Porte can win the Tour de France

'We are building a team that focuses on him, he is the only leader'

BMC performance manager Allan Peiper believes that Richie Porte can win the Tour de France and has confirmed the Australian will lead the BMC team next July, with the team built around him.

Porte finished fifth in this year's Tour de France in his first season at BMC following his move from Team Sky. Peiper believes he could have finished as high as second overall.

"This year we finished fifth in the Tour de France, some bad luck happened on the first day and we lost a minute and a half, which probably cost him second place. Also with the crash with Chris Froome (on Mont Ventoux) they lost time and all the rest of it," Peiper told The Advocate newspaper in Porte's home state of Tasmania during a winter visit to Australia.

"The big thing for me is that as a team we now know and we believe that he can win the Tour de France, if you can finish second, you can finish first."

The only leader for the Tour de France

Peiper does not reveal where fellow Grand Tour rider Tejay van Garderen will fit into BMC's plans to target the Tour de France in 2017 but makes it clear BMC is ready to back Porte next July.

BMC has boosted its Grand Tour squad by signing Nicolas Roche and Martin Elmiger, while Philippe Gilbert has moved to QuickStep and Taylor Phinney to Cannondale-Drapac. The arrival of Tag Heuer as a major new sponsor has also secured the team's future.

"I think as a team we have the confidence now that he can win the Tour and we need to support that," Peiper said. "We are building a team that focuses on him, he is the only leader and I think the most important thing which is critical is that Richie believes it – everything needs to go perfectly to win the Tour de France."

Porte has not raced since crashing out of the road race at the Rio Olympics on August 6. He suffered a fractured right scapular and contusions, choosing to use his early end to the season to have his tonsils removed in the US.

Porte attended the presentation of the Tour de France route in Paris and recently spent time in the wind tunnel, working on his time trial position. He will ride the Stan Siejka Classic in Launceston on November 27 with fellow Tasmanian riders Matt Goss, and Wes and Bernie Sulzberger.

"He has already started training now building up towards the Tour Down Under which he wants to win," Peiper said. "Obviously we missed him at the end of the season but he finished in the top ten of the points ranking after not racing since the Tour de France which is really good, but I do not see it as being disadvantageous."

Porte is expected to start the 2017 season strongly at the Tour Down Under in January. He has won three stages in recent years and finished second overall behind Simon Gerrans (Orica-Bike Exchange) in 2016.

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