Team believes Australian has what it takes to beat Chris Froome in 2017
Porte is back in training after breaking his collarbone in the Olympic road race in August and preparing for another go at the Tour in 2017.
“Some bad luck happened on the first day and we lost a minute and a half, which probably cost him second place,” BMC’s sporting manager, Allan Peiper told Fairfax Media.
“The big thing for me is that as a team we now know and we believe that he can now win the Tour de France, if you can finish second, you can finish first.”
Incidents took their toll as always in the first week of the Tour. Three-time victor Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) fell in both the first and second stage. Porte suffered a rear wheel puncture in the final kilometres of stage two to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin.
Froome won the Tour by 4-05 over Frenchman Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale). Only one minute separated places second through fifth, and if Porte had the 1-45 back that he lost with a puncture, he would have sat second overall – the best finish for an Australian since Cadel Evans won in 2011.
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Of course, splits, crashes and punctures count as much, or more, as attacks in the high Alps. Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) would agree since he lost enough due to cross-winds and crashes in the 2015 Tour’s second stage to cost him the win.
Peiper, however, points towards Porte’s consistent rise from being a domestique for Contador and Froome to BMC Racing’s sole Tour leader.
Porte helped both Bradley Wiggins and Froome win the Tour. He was given his chance to lead in 2014 when Froome abandoned and tried to give Sky its first win in the Giro d’Italia in 2015.
“When Richie came to BMC this year a lot of journalists were saying Richie is very unpredictable because he always has a bad day,” added Peiper.
“I saw and still see that as being very short-sighted, he was always riding for other riders and he was not expected to last three weeks.”
BMC appears to have abandoned its two-pronged approach with Porte and American Tejay van Garderen. Van Garderen placed fifth overall twice, but this year suffered and ended 29th.
“We have the confidence now that [Porte] can win the Tour and we need to support that,” said Peiper.
“We are building a team that focuses on him, he is the only leader. The most important thing which is critical is that Richie believes it – everything needs to go perfectly to win the Tour de France.”