Richie Porte has reiterated that it’s now ‘crunch time’ as BMC Racing look to secure their future beyond this year. Porte, who finished third overall at the Tour de Romandie on Sunday, is out of contract at the end of the season, with BMC yet to confirm if they will support a WorldTour team in 2019.
In February, Porte told Cyclingnews that the team had until May to finalise their plans before he began looking at other team options for next year. After wrapping up third at Romandie, Porte also confirmed that he is unlikely to return to the Tour Down Under in 2019. The Australian has made that race his season-opener over the last few years, winning the overall in 2017, and six stages over the years.
The immediate future, however, will revolve around his contractual situation with BMC Racing.
“I don’t want to lie, it is a little bit stressful. We ride our bikes and it is the management’s job to find a sponsor for us next year. It would be sad to see BMC go. They’re a great team and I’ve had a great couple of years here. Now is crunch time,” he told Cyclingnews.
When asked if he had already received offers from rival teams, Porte added: “To be honest I’m not sure. You’d have to ask my manager Andrew McQuaid. I’ve not had much contact with him this week. He’s let me do my race but fingers crossed there’s a BMC team next year. It hurts to have lost Andy Rihs last week. This team was his passion and we want to keep that going.”
Porte’s Romandie result signifies his best result of the season since the Tour Down Under in January. The Australian was hit by flu when returning to Europe and missed Tirreno-Adriatico as a result. With just the Tour de Suisse on his programme between now and the Tour de France, Romandie represents a significant step forward.
“Considering the form that I had coming into the race, I’m happy with that performance. It’s a massive confidence booster. I’ve not had a great last couple of weeks so to be up on the podium is a nice result.
“This gives me a boost going into my next training block and then going into Suisse. Now’s the time, to be honest, to start being serious, after an up and down period. To be third in Romandie, and I would have loved to have won the race after the passing of Andy, but it wasn’t to be. It’s still good to be on the podium.”
Tour Down Under
Porte won the Willunga stage at the Tour Down Under for the fifth consecutive year this January but failed to retain his race title. At the time, he believed that his home tour was the right race to open his season with but at Romandie he strongly hinted that there would be a change in approach next year.
“Being from Australia, it’s great to do the Tour Down Under but I’m not sure that I’ll go back there next year. It’s not been great to miss races like Tirreno, Paris and Catalunya but maybe in hindsight skipping Tour Down Under is a better thing. Maybe, I would have been in better condition coming here, in hindsight, but the podium here is good for the confidence.
“My coach David Bailey put the idea in my head that maybe it was wise to put off doing Tour Down Under.”