Richie Porte must honour his contract and ride for Team Saxo Bank-SunGard next year, team owner Bjarne Riis has said. The Dane criticised “managers and agents” for encouraging riders to break their contracts.
Riis was reacting to Porte's recent comments of a possible team change. “There is a lot of interest in me after what I have done this season, but I have not taken any decision," Porte said.
“He has a contract and he will not get out of it. He will not be allowed to go. It's as simple as that, and he knows it, too. I cannot understand why he keeps talking about it,” Riis told Sporten.dk.
“The problem is that their managers and agents are pushing the riders to their limits and advise their riders wrong. Contracts must be respected,” he said.
Porte still has one year left on his contract with Riis, who added that the situation of the young Australian talent was different to that of Fabian Cancellara. Riis and the Swiss rider recently mutually agreed to cancel the final year of his contract.
“It's something else, when you agree,” he said. “Richie's manager continues to provoke and try to push us. We have told them that it cannot happen. He cannot be bought off. Yet they continue.
“It's fair enough for a manager to ask, but when he is told no, he must stop. He pushes lawyers and everything at us, but according to the rules you don't come out of a contract unless both parties agree.”
The problem goes beyond Saxo Bank, and Riis expects the International Cycling Union (UCI) to take a stand on the matter, if not action.
“It's a huge problem in the sport, and this year it has gone berserk. The agents are running around and shop with all sorts of teams and it's not just us who have these problems,” Riis said. “It must stop now, it's unacceptable. Agents are putting ideas into the minds of young riders by tempting them with figures that are completely unrealistic."
Porte blasted into the ProTour this season by finishing sixth in the Giro d'Italia opening time trial. He later wore the leader's jersey for three stages and finished his first Grand Tour in seventh, also winning the jersey for best young rider. The Australian also won the time trial at the Tour de Romandie and finished fourth overall in both the Eneco Tour and the Tour of Britain.