DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) Expected Tour de France title contender Richie Porte will remain with the BMC team next season and beyond - although it's unclear for how long.
''You can't explain how elated we are to be able to announce Richie Porte has extended his contract with the BMC Racing Team for next season and onward,'' BMC general manager Jim Ochowicz said Thursday, two days before the Tour starts.
The announcement came a day after defending Tour champion Chris Froome said he is close to extending his contract with Team Sky until 2021.
Porte is among the favorites to challenge Froome after a solid start to the season, with wins at the Tour Down Under and Tour de Romandie and a second-place finish at the Criterium du Dauphine.
''The podium in Paris is the goal and we've got the right team to get there,'' Porte said.
A 32-year-old Australian, Porte joined BMC in 2016 after racing for Sky in support of Froome.
BMC did not give details of the new contract.
''We really didn't have to think too much about it - kind of a no-brainer between Richie and I to get this done,'' Ochowicz said. ''We really look forward to the future of professional cycling and we have only started our project and we have a lot more to go.''
The Tour begins Saturday with a mostly flat 14-kilometer (8.7 mile) individual time trial in Duesseldorf. The three-week race ends in Paris on July 23.