The Hawaiian-shirted one, Rupert Guinness, has been alluding to it in his articles for Fairfax for a few weeks now. But being the hugely influential mover and shaker of world cycling that I’m not, I’m just going to cut straight to the chase. Shayne Bannan of Orica-GreenEDGE needs to make the signing of Richie Porte happen. And if it means giving him half the mining licences in Tasmania to seal the deal, so be it.
In 2013 Porte is quite simply on fire. He’s had a Wiggins-esque start to the season, all the more remarkable because it was he – together with the now departed Mick Rogers – who was a major player in helping Wiggins achieve similar results to the same stage of last season.
Sure he’s handsomely paid at Sky. But money isn’t everything when you’re already rather well off. And it’s not like Orica-GreenEDGE would be paying him Kingaroy peanuts with all that mining and caravan money behind them.
Regardless, it comes down to ambition and timing. Very simply Porte is too talented to be, at best, number three in his Team’s pecking order – even if that team happens to be the all-conquering Sky. Let’s face it. Froome and Wiggo can’t agree on much. So how does Porte have a chance? It’s unfortunate, sure. But it’s also life, and it means in 2014 Porte must ‘do a Cavendish’, and leave the comfort of Mr Brailsford’s black and blue bus for his own good. Or face the prospect of perhaps never realising his Grand Tour destiny; a destiny that seemed inevitable when he wore the Maglia Rosa for three impressive days of the 2010 Giro d’Italia.
In some ways Porte’s situation is not dissimilar to Teejay Van Garderen at BMC. Playing uber domestique to his more illustrious team-mates, rather than chasing his own glory when it really counts. Unlike Teejay, however, he’ll be 29 by the time the 101st Tour rolls around in 2014 and speeding rapidly through the prime of his cycling career. Seems crazy to do it in the small chain-ring, don’t you think?
GreenEDGE have sprinters. They have some outstanding TT riders too, potentially the best in the entire peloton. Plus plenty of solid all-rounders capable of great things on their day. What everyone in world cycling knows they don’t have is a genuine GC rider. Perhaps one day Cam Meyer might get there, maybe even someone like Simon Clarke. But for now, it’s a rather yawning hole in the OGE squad. Surely Porte is the one to fill it? Sponsors will love it. Aussie cycling fans will love it. And the media, well, they can’t get it soon enough.
So come on, let’s make it happen Shayne. Any way you can.
Lemond gets “Badgered” in 1986
Team Sky isn’t the first team to have too many big wheels on their team. The 1986 Tour de France saw, arguably, one of the greatest acts of on-road betrayal in Tour history when, backed by the help of several of his French teammates, Bernard Hinault attacked his designated La Vie Clair team leader, Greg Lemond, not once but twice – first on Stage 12 in the Pyrenees and again on Stage 16 in the Alps.
The Badger put significant time gaps into his American teammate on both stages. But revenge ultimately came to Lemond on Stage 17 where he escaped on the descent of the Col d’Izoard and captured the Maillot Jaune en route to claiming the overall little in Paris.