Caruso: Even if you're really good all you can do is follow Team Sky

Damiano Caruso is well versed in fighting against the odds but the Italian admits that he and his BMC Racing teammates are really up against it when they take on Team Sky in the Grand Tours.

Caruso can often be found near the front of the peloton in the mountains, marshaling his leader, Richie Porte, against a tide of Team Sky riders. At the 2017 Tour de France, Caruso was often Porte's last line of defence before a crash took the Australian out of the race on stage 9.

"I'm a Juventus fan, so to compare, Team Sky are like Barcelona or PSG," Caruso told Cyclingnews.

"Then maybe BMC are like Juventus. We're good, we're close to the best, but I'll be honest, we're not the best team in the big tours. That's Team Sky.

"It's clear but there are many reasons, like budget. If you look at the nine riders they have at the Tour this year, what are the salaries? Maybe 15-20 million Euro. It means that if we make a mistake, it's over. We can't afford to do that. We saw this year what happened. Okay it wasn't a mistake and what happened with Richie was an accident but it showed that we don't have a second card to play with. With Team Sky, we've seen that they don't make mistakes. Whether that's luck or not, I don't know."

Porte will lead the line once again for BMC Racing at the Tour de France in 2018, with Caruso acting as his loyal lieutenant. Tejay van Garderen will be deployed to help in the mountains but the Italian climber is well aware of the challenge they face. In recent years Team Sky have suffocated the life out of the Tour and, regardless of what happens with Chris Froome's future, they are likely to still arrive at the race with a stacked team.

"It's really difficult because the medium level at Sky is really high," he said.

"It's hard to beat them, but we can do our best and we're a good team too. When you see them lined out it's hard. There are moments in the race when you can't do anything. Their tempo is so high that even if you're really good you can just about stay on their wheels. There are times when there's an acceleration with around 500 metres to go on the climbs. That's because everyone is fighting for position before the descent. So my job there is to make sure Richie is in a good position. Then when we hit the valleys I need to make sure I'm there too."

Caruso finished 11th in the Tour in 2017 after Porte's departure but the former Cannondale climber will revert to his more accustomed role next season. The plan is to start later in the year with a conservative programme that will see him peak at the Tour in July and then try and rediscover his best condition for the Vuelta a España and the World Championships.

"My role in the team is the same for next year and the goal for me is to keep Richie at the front in the mountain stages," he said. "I need to be there to protect him in the difficult moments. For sure I do the Tour, then the Vuelta."

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Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.