The cycling world has been curious about the future of Richie Porte, who is approaching the end of his current contract with Team Sky. Although he has been linked to both Etixx-QuickStep and BMC Racing for 2016, one source close to Team Sky has told Cyclingnews that Porte will almost certainly head to BMC.
The Australian’s future has been shrouded in speculation for most of the year. He abandoned the Giro d'Italia earlier in May, and Cyclingnews understands that Team Sky are willing to allow him to leave with Astana's Mikel Landa and Etixx-QuickStep's Michal Kwiatkowski looking set to join the British WorldTour team.
Porte has been linked to a flurry of teams, with Etixx and BMC the most likely. Etixx still need to confirm the futures of Rigoberto Urán and Mark Cavendish, who are both out of contract, while BMC are offering contracts beyond 2016, despite the fact that their current WorldTour licence expires then. The team appear confident of securing a long-term future and are also looking to find additional sponsors.
"We don't talk about the terms of the contract but we're recruiting and building this team for 2017, 18, and up to 20," manger Jim Ochowicz told Cyclingnews. "Our roster is almost done for next year and we'll be lucky to sign two or three new riders. We're retaining 25 riders from this year for 2016 so that only leaves a couple of spots open. What we have is the development team to draw from and that's the future of what we’re doing.
"We're looking for two or three more slots but we need a couple of climbers. We're not looking for a sprinter," he added.
When asked specifically if the team were looking for a climber with GC credentials, as Porte does have in the majority of stage races he enters, Ochowicz said,
"Most climbers could be in that category. We have a second GC rider in Caruso so do we need another GC rider? Sometimes climbers turn into GC riders because they're good riders and sometimes they're young like Caruso. But we need climbers. There are a lot of them on the market. We're being picky and we're looking for the right one. They need to be a climber but they need to fit in personality-wise and the culture of how we race and live together."
BMC had tried to sign Porte when he left Saxo Bank for Team Sky several years ago, Ochowicz confirmed.
"We were looking for Richie three or four years ago and we came close to signing him at that point. We've know him for years. Cadel knows him and he's a nice kid. I can't confirm who we're talking to."