• BMC boss Jim Ochowicz squeezing in a few kilometres at the Santos Tour Down Under. (Getty)Source: Getty
BMC general manager Jim Ochowicz has explained why he is banking on Richie Porte at the Tour de France this season, dropping a two-prong approach with Tejay van Garderen employed last year.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
21 Jan 2017 - 8:42 AM  UPDATED 21 Jan 2017 - 8:45 AM

Ochowicz is confident affording Porte a title bid at the Tour and van Garderen at the Giro d’Italia will be as profitable to both riders as the team, which has renewed interest in the latter.

“We felt like we could get a better performance out of Richie by doing it this way, and a better performance out of Tejay,” Ochowicz said.

“Having Tejay make a serious, 100 per cent, I’m in, I want to be the leader, I’ll do it, Giro commitment was equally important for us as a team. We haven’t had a leader in the Giro since Cadel [Evans] last really committed to it back in 2010, so we’ve been kind of absent at the Giro to a certain degree.”

Porte lands a big punch on Paracombe
Richie Porte (BMC) staked his claim for a first Santos Tour Down Under title with an explosive performance which delivered him the Stage 2 victory and race lead.

Porte joined BMC last year to make his own claim on the maillot jaune having previously served three-time champion Chris Froome and Alberto Contador before him. The Tasmanian finished fifth in his first attempt, ahead of van Garderen, who was 29th.

The two-prong approach was perhaps advantageous in both men could share associated pressures, however they also ultimately competed with split support and against teams, like Froome’s Sky, that went all-in for one rider.

Ochowicz said the Giro was an easy sell for van Garderen, who reportedly wanted to take a break from the Tour after consecutive stints as leader at the race he has recently cracked in.

“Absolutely. He was happy with that decision, and so was Richie,” Ochowicz said. “Tejay wanted to try something different, that’s for sure, and Richie wanted to stick with the normal plan.”

Porte has opened his season at the Tour Down Under, which he currently leads with two stages remaining.

Saturday’s hilltop finish to Willunga on paper will be the only opportunity for his rivals to take time before Sunday’s closing criterium.

Porte may sacrifice Willunga in TDU title hunt
Richie Porte brimmed with confidence after he lay first claim to the Santos Tour Down Under on Wednesday, marking a solo victory on the opening hilltop finish to assume race leadership.

BMC looked foreboding at the front of the peloton on Friday, controlling for most of the fourth stage, which Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) won in a bunch sprint.

“We love having him in the group, he does a great job and I think he’s maturing and also getting better,” Ochowicz said.

“The races he’s doing are better selected for him, so he’s making progress. There are still setbacks that happen, like the Olympics.

"He was going to do some other things at the end of last year and couldn’t finish up the season the way it was planned. But now we’re off to a perfect start here in 2017, he already has a win [stage two of the Tour Down Under]. Now we stay focused as we keep going forward.”