• Seeing the light... Richie Porte says it's time to cut himself loose from Team Sky. (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
We know he's going - but rather than simply say 'Where will Richie go?', should we not be asking, 'Where should he go?'
By
13 Jul 2015 - 9:12 PM  UPDATED 13 Jul 2015 - 10:02 PM

He jokingly told SBS last night it was "cycling's worst kept secret", so perhaps he thought it time to spill the beans. Though perhaps, after what he described was an "excruciating" effort that lasted just 32 minutes and 16 seconds, Team Sky missing out on victory in the 28 kilometre team time trial by a quarter of a second to BMC Racing, it came out in a moment of light-headedness.

Deal done
Australia's Porte confirms he is leaving Team Sky
Australia's Richie Porte has revealed he is riding his last Tour de France in the colours of Team Sky.

If the rumours are true, then Richie Porte penned a deal with BMC Racing as much as two months ago, to be a co-leader alongside Tejay van Garderen.

But my thoughts are not so much about 'Where will Richie go?', but 'Where should Richie go?'

Where would be the best place for what is unquestionably Australia's best current Grand Tour prospect?

"Would it be such a bad thing if he were to go back to the team that first gave him his chance to turn professional, and where he discovered his talent and proclivity for stage racing?"

Is it indeed BMC, where they already have a bona fide Tour de France contender in Tejay van Garderen - three-and-a-half years his junior; already with a pair of top-five GC placings in La Grande Boucle; and, this year in particular, looking like the real deal?

Last year, after Allan Peiper replaced John Lelangue as sporting manager of BMC Racing, shortly after both Cadel Evans and van Garderen bombed out at the 2013 Tour, Evans ceded outright leadership in July to the 26-year-old American. The consolation prize? Leadership at the 2014 Giro d'Italia, yet fifth was the best the 2011 Tour champ could do against an indomitable Nairo Quintana.

Come July 26 in Paris, if van Garderen finishes on the podium, will the same thing happen to Porte?

The first nine days of this Tour has shown it is hard enough protecting one GC leader, let alone two; it seems BMC Racing would only hedge their bets if they had lost faith in their incumbent, leading to disunity among the ranks.

What about Orica-GreenEDGE?

First things first: Do they have the money? Estimates place Porte's market value close to two million Euros, and my understanding is that no-one at OGE is paid that sort of cash, especially with a budget than less than half (some say close to one-third) that of the British-based setup where he now resides.

The Yates twins, Adam and Simon, are also being touted as future Grand Tour stars, though at 22 years young it will be another four to five years before we know if potential meets reality.

Jack Haig, regarded as Australian cycling's next big thing, will join OGE as a stagiaire from August 1. However the 21-year-old is even further away than the Yates boys in terms of realising his ability in three week races, so for the next three to five years there is room for a GC rider; the question is more one of will (on both sides) and financial wherewithal.

At 36 Joaquim Rodríguez is past his prime, so Katusha is a possibility, as is Etixx-Quick-Step, who continue to rely on Rigoberto Urán but where GC in Grand Tours is more an afterthought. While he's come close (second overall at the 2013 and 2014 Giro), the Colombian has never really looked like winning; the final week remains his Achilles' heel.

When you compare Porte's time at Saxo Bank (2010-11) versus his tenure at Team Sky, the 30-year-old Tasmanian seems to much prefer an Anglophone-managed environment where cultural barriers are virtually non-existent. Or he found Bjarne Riis to be a bit of a plonker, as does Oleg Tinkov, it seems...

Still, with Alberto Contador indicating next year may well be his last, would it be such a bad thing if he were to go back to the team that first gave him his chance to turn professional, and where he discovered his talent and proclivity for stage racing?

To learn from the guy who he once rode for - the 32-year-old Spaniard indisputably the best, and most successful, Grand Tour rider of his generation - and to potentially have that guy ride for him, surely, that would be a good thing, no?

Nonetheless, wherever he goes, Porte must first prove he is capable of leading a team from start to finish for 23 days; something he is yet to accomplish, despite now riding his ninth Grand Tour.

For me, it is not so much a question of physicality, but mentality.