Ventoso proving invaluable to Porte's Tour de France dreams

Spaniard in the frame for selection with BMC

Quick to praise his teammates all week on the way to Tour Down Under success, Richie Porte continually singled out the work of Fran Ventoso as a domestique de luxe for BMC Racing.

The Spaniard made his BMC debut at the Tour Down Under in the best manner possible, earning the trust and confidence of his teammates and delivering Porte to a sixth career stage race victory. It was also Ventoso's first return to the race after his success in 2011 when he won the stage into Willunga for Movistar.

Six years on, it was Porte taking the spoils in Willunga, albeit in a tougher finish, as Ventoso spent the majority of the day setting the tempo in the peloton before Porte sealed the overall win with his second stage win of the race. Just one demonstration of his value to Porte and BMC across the six days of racing.

"I am really happy to come to BMC Racing Team and come back to Australia again after 2011 and two stages with Richie," Ventoso told Cyclingnews.

A professional since 2004, the 34-year-old explained that missing out on racing any of the Grand Tours last year had him questioning his future in the professional peloton but he has since rediscovered his mojo with BMC Racing following an off-season transfer from Movistar.

"After I stay out of the Tour and Vuelta last year, it was a really hard hit for me. I think to stop my career but after this deal with BMC, I am motivated again for racing and training," said Ventoso who suffered a deep wound from a disc brake in Paris-Roubaix, derailing his early-season racing programme last April.

A regular winner at the beginning of his career with stage victories at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana on his palmares, Ventoso has turned domestique in the last few seasons and hasn't recorded a personal victory since 2012. At Movistar, he was part of Nairo Quintana's 2014 Giro winning squad and also rode alongside the Colombian at the 2015 Vuelta for a fourth place finish.

In Richie Porte, BMC have a bona fide contender for the Tour de France and Ventoso believes the soon to be 32-year-old has all the qualities to become a grand tour winner and get the better of Chris Froome and Quintana come July.

"I like Richie because after, and during, the stage he always supports his teammates and always says thank you to everybody. He is a really good leader for the team," said Ventoso who previously rode the Tour in 2006, 2007 and 2011. "Richie is a fantastic rider and for sure, this year he is especially motivated for the Tour and he will be first in the overall."

Having enjoyed the best "beginning of the season" in his career thus far at the Tour Down Under, Ventoso will head back to Europe and switch his focus from stage racing to one-day classics in support of BMC's Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet. He'll then re-join Porte to press his case for Tour de France selection and keep his 'sueño amarillo' alive.

"It's really good for our team to have two leaders like them because, for the other riders who support them, it is perfect," he said. "When you work for them and its possible to take a victory, it's extra motivation to do your work."

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