Three Tour de France wins in four years – it’s been a remarkable run for Team Sky and their British leaders, with Sir Bradley Wiggins’ 2012 victory followed up by wins for Chris Froome in 2013 and 2015. However, only one rider has been ever-present through every stage of those four editions of the Tour – the Australian, Richie Porte.
But, after joining in 2012, Porte bids farewell to Team Sky this winter, bound for BMC Racing, after taking up a star role in the squad’s support cast at the Tour and playing a key role in each of those three victories, as well as earning a number of individual wins as a leader in his own right.
With that, Porte holds a rare privilege for an Australian sportsman – a place in the hearts of the British sporting public, thanks to his role in Wiggins’ and Froome’s victories.
In fact, during Porte’s four years at Team Sky, Australia’s cricketers have lost, regained and then lost the Ashes again, the Wallabies lost to the Lions but then knocked England out of the Rugby World Cup, and even the country’s tennis stars went down after a battle royale with the Brits in this year’s Davis Cup semi-finals – but Porte has become an adopted Brit to many Team Sky and British cycling fans.
And the feeling’s mutual, with Porte leaving Team Sky in an increasingly rare position for a professional sportsman – able to switch teams with nothing but praise for, and from, his employers for the last four years.
“Sky is the most incredible experience you can have as a professional cyclist,” Porte told RoadCyclingUK, speaking at the Cycle Show.
“It’s weird for a cyclist to be leaving a team and not have a criticism. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about Team Sky – they have revolutionised the sport and they’re just going to keep doing that. A massive percentage of the peloton are now looking at what Team Sky do.”
Porte joined the British WorldTour team’s ranks for the 2012 season as a 26-year-old after two years with Team SaxoBank, during which he had secured the white jersey as the best young rider at the 2010 Giro d’Italia having finished seventh overall, and proven his talent against the clock with back-to-back top ten finished at the 2010 and 2011 World Time Trial Championships.