Richie Porte has blasted Australian cycling team Mitchelton-Scott for not taking Caleb Ewan to the Tour de France.
The Tasmanian star said he couldn't believe it when Mitchelton-Scott announced Ewan was not in their line up for the tour, which starts on Saturday.
Mitchelton-Scott had pre-selected the young Australian sprint ace in December for his much-anticipated Tour debut, but instead opted to put full focus on their British overall contender Adam Yates.
There is strong speculation that Ewan will change teams and move to Lotto-Soudal next year, but Mitchelton-Scott said that wasn't why he was left off their Tour team.
Ewan is cycling's new sprint star and he would have been one of three big Australian drawcards at the Tour this year, alongside Porte and defending green jersey champion Michael Matthews.
Porte, a friend of Ewan's, is unimpressed at the decision.
"They've sold themselves as the Australian team, but then to leave out an Australian who is their best chance to win a stage, I feel so sorry for him," Porte told AAP.
"He's changing teams, but from the sporting side of it you take your best team on paper - and that's him.
"He's one of the next superstar sprinters, I'm sure he would have won a stage."
Porte also praised Ewan for the way he handled the bad news.
The day after it came out, Porte was out training and saw Ewan with his coach, going through a high-intensity fitness test on the bike.
"If that was me, and my big goal was the Tour and I was told no, you're not doing it, I reckon I would have been about three tubs of Ben And Jerrys down," Porte said.
"If he comes out next year and wins three or four stages, that would be the best pay back."
Porte was on a training ride with Ewan on the morning the team broke the bad news.
"He said 'I'm waiting on a call ... I just get a feeling that maybe they're going to flick me'," Porte said.
"I said 'come on mate, how can they flick you?'
"I got home and I couldn't believe it."
Porte and Matthews will be among 11 Australian starters in the Tour, which starts on Saturday night (AEST).
One of Porte's key BMC teammates will be compatriot Simon Gerrans.
Porte personally requested that Gerrans join the team and the veteran will have the key role of road captain.
Gerrans will be crucial in the chaotic opening days of the Tour, when Porte and the other overall contenders aim to stay out of trouble.
"Gerro is just the most up-front, down-to-earth loyal mate," Porte said.
"It's fantastic to finally ride on the same team with him.
"He's helped change a lot of things on this team, for the better."