In his last season with Team Sky, Richie Porte has given Chris Froome his all in the team’s bid for the yellow jersey despite being ill and on antibiotics for the last 10 days of the Tour de France. At the finish of stage 20 on Alpe d’Huez, where Froome retained his overall lead with one ‘celebratory’ day to go, the Australian said that he was pleased to end his term with the powerful British squad on a high note.
“To be honest, it was my last mountain stage with Sky, and I had a good chat with Nicolas Portal (director at Team Sky) this morning,” Porte told Cyclingnews. “I’ve been on antibiotics for about 10 days now and it’s been devastating for me to not play a part in the race, really, you know?”
After abandoning the Giro d’Italia as Team Sky’s leader in May, Porte was selected to the team’s Tour de France squad as an important helper for Froome in the mountains. He had a strong showing during the first day in Pyrenees, stage 10 to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, where he was second behind Froome, but then fell ill and struggled through the remaining mountain stages, contributing to the yellow jersey wherever he could manage. Meanwhile, much of the slack in the mountains was picked up by Geraint Thomas and Wouter Poels.
“I think our team has been absolutely fantastic in this race and everyone has done their job, it’s just a bit disappointing for me,” Porte said.
“I know where I was at coming into it, I was climbing well and I think I showed that in the first mountain stage,” Porte said. “Yesterday, Chris Froome came to my room and said, ‘just give me all you’ve got tomorrow’. He’s such a great mate and I’m just happy to be able to finish it off on a high level.”
After much speculation about his future, Porte confirmed during the Tour de France that he would leave the Team Sky at the end of the season. Although he can’t officially sign for a new team until August 1, he is expected to join BMC Racing in 2016.
“Obviously, the last three weeks have really taken a toll on him [Chris Froome], and truth be known, I don’t think he’s really been that healthy either. It’s testament to how hard he is mentally, and it’s a little bit worrying knowing that next year I’ll be taking him on.”
Porte will be among Team Sky’s celebratory stage 21 ride into Paris on Sunday, in support of Froome as he rides onto the Champs-Élysées to secure the second overall title at the Tour de France. It will be an emotional moment for Porte.
“It’s nice to leave this team on a high. I’ve made some life-long friends here and it’s just such a great way to finish it off.”