Tasmanian who wore maglia rosa last year to target week-long stage races initially

Richie Porte, the 26-year-old Australian who won the best young rider’s classification at last year’s Giro d’Italia, also wearing the race leader’s maglia rosa for three days, is leaving Saxo Bank-SunGard to join Team Sky.

It’s a surprise move for the Tasmanian rider, and something of a coup for Team Sky to have landed one of the sport's best young prospects, particularly at a time when the Australian GreenEdge team is being put together.

This year, Porte played a supporting role to Alberto Contador in the Spaniard’s doomed defence of his Tour de France title, the Australian himself finishing in 72nd position overall in the three-week race.

“I'm really happy to have signed for Team Sky and cannot wait to see what next season will bring,” said Porte today. “Ever since the launch of the team I've been really impressed with the way they go about their business and it'll be nice to be able to experience that first-hand now.

“For riders like myself who are always looking to develop and improve, I don't think there's a better place to be - the coaching set up is absolutely top-notch and the way they look after their riders is also second to none.”

“I had two great years at Saxo Bank-SunGard, and will be forever grateful to them for giving me my chance in the professional ranks, but am looking forward to opening this next chapter of my career now and hopefully taking things to another level.”

“I'll be targeting the week-long stage races initially, although it would be nice in the future to lead the team in a Grand Tour. My time trialling is another area I want to focus on, and having guys in the team like Bradley Wiggins and Michael Rogers will help me no end and I'll be looking to learn as much as I can from them.”

Team Principal Dave Brailsford commented: “In Richie Porte, Team Sky have acquired one of the world’s most gifted riders and we are thrilled to have him on the team. The progress he has made during the last four years has been outstanding and he will undoubtedly strengthen our squad for 2012 and beyond.

“Richie is a rider that has everything - not only is he right up there with the best time triallers in the world, he can also climb and is not afraid to suffer when he is told to work for someone else either. Now is his time to shine - whether that’s in a Grand Tour or on a stage race like Paris-Nice, we’ll have to see, but it’s a long season and he’ll get plenty of opportunities.

“I’m sure he’s going to be very happy with this team and we’re confident he will have a long and successful career with us.”

Porte is the third signing announced by Team Sky in recent days, the others being Welsh rider Luke Rowe, a member of the GB Olympic Development Programme, and the Italian Salvatore Puccio, winner of this year’s Under-23 Tour of Flanders. Both are aged 21.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.