BMC Racing Team general manager Jim Ochowicz has rebutted the sentiment from Tinkoff team owner Oleg Tinkov that BMC “will close their doors soon”.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly at the Critérium du Dauphiné on Thursday, Ochowicz assured that the team had secure sponsorship and a healthy future.
Russian businessman Tinkov has become dissatisfied with pro cycling’s business model and decided to leave the sport, a move that is likely to see his Tinkoff team fold through want of a backer at the end of the season.
“We have no control over what Mr Tinkov says or doesn’t say but he’s making a personal statement. It’s not really relative to what we’re doing,” Ochowicz said.
“I can say [BMC Racing owner] Andy [Rihs] has no intentions of leaving the sport at the moment. We’re looking at the future; we’re not looking at stopping, it’s not in our vocabulary.”
Tinkov, in an interview with Danish broadcaster TV2 last week, predicted BMC and Katusha would suffer a similar fate to his own squad that is home to world champion Peter Sagan.
“The business model in cycling is wrong. I am sure that BMC and Katusha will close their doors soon,” Tinkov told TV2. “The sport is in a huge crisis, but if the ASO does not agree to share with the teams of the TV rights, as in Formula 1, things will never change … [we’ll] have … collapse after collapse.”
Single-season deals have apparently been preferred at BMC this year, which has compounded sponsorship rumours. Asked if the team was seeking additional financiers beyond 2017, Ochowicz said: “We’re sponsored by BMC so we’re solid on the ground. We’re moving forward, we’re looking at the future and we’re not dreaming about it, it’s a reality.”
The 64-year-old did relate to some of Tinkov’s business observations, adding the current climate, which this season is due to see two WorldTour teams fold because of finance, is hard.
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“Yes, it’s a difficult challenge to be in the sport today,” he continued. “There are some concerns that Mr Tinkov brings up; the relationships between ASO and UCI, or the positions the teams have on certain subjects. Yes, those are valid points to make but are they points that are going to keep us from continuing to be active in the sport? No.”
Ochowicz and Rihs are both at the Critérium du Dauphiné in which Richie Porte is poised for a title assault before his maiden maillot jaune attempt at the Tour de France next month.
Porte joined the squad on a two-year deal this season and BMC has also extended with Tour co-captain Tejay van Garderen for a publicly unspecified period. Cycling Weekly understands Grand Tour aspirant Rohan Dennis will also re-sign for another season, with an option for a second.
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