Richie Porte has confirmed he will leave Team Sky at the end of the season but insists he is fully focused on helping Chris Froome win the Tour de France for the second time.
The 30-year-old from Tasmania broke the news in a Tour de France diary he has been writing for the Sydney Morning Herald.
He said: “It's been no secret how much I want to see how far I can go as a grand tour contender, and in recent weeks there has been a lot of speculation about my future at Team Sky.
“Yes, it's true … I am leaving the team. I'm going. But it's important to know that I'm leaving the team on really good terms and I want to finish my fourth year with them on a real high.
“I want to absolutely bust myself to not just help my good mate Chris Froome win a second Tour, but to also to repay Team Sky for the opportunities they have given me.
If anything, by confirming my departure from Team Sky will make me do my job even better,” continued Porte, who said he wanted to end media speculation over his future.
He was best young rider at the 2010 Giro d’Italia and spent three days of that race in the overall lead, joined Sky in 2012 and rode the Tour de France that year in support of Sir Bradley Wiggins and the following year for Froome.
Last year, he took over as Sky’s leader when defending champion Froome crashed out of the Tour in the opening week, but finished 23rd as he struggled to overcome illness.
Early season successes this year included overall wins at Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro del Trentino ahead of Porte leading Sky’s challenge at the Giro d’Italia, but he left the race with a week remaining due to injury, having slid down the overall standings.
He said his close friend Froome “totally understands my move” and added: “At 30 years of age, I feel I am at the optimal period of my career and I really want to make a fist of leading a team regularly.
“So I need to make the leap of faith and find out for myself if I am capable of it – which I believe I am.”
Porte praised his team for helping bring him on, saying: “The rider I am in the future will always be a by-product of four years of development at Team Sky.
“When I joined Team Sky they put forward a terrific programme designed towards me working to the chance of one day leading the team in a grand tour.”
He added: “I've had my opportunities, and for that I'm really grateful; even if leading the team at this year's Giro d'Italia didn't go to plan due to crash injuries leading to me to leave the race with six days to go.
“There is still plenty I have learned from that Giro experience which I believe will help make me a better rider in coming years.”
Regarding this year’s Tour, he said: “I've said before how I believe this is the best Tour team we have assembled, and I think we have started to show signs of that over the last nine days.
“That we are all so tight will also make the last days nearing Paris somewhat sad,” continued Porte.
“But I'll keep the tissues for later," he added. "Right now, we all have our jobs to do – and massive ones at that; and for me it all really starts on Tuesday when he hit the Pyrenees.”
Porte did not say where might be headed – the transfer season officially opens on 1 August – but he has been linked with BMC Racing, Etixx-Quick Step and Australia’s Orica-GreenEdge.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.