Could BMC halt sponsorship at the end of 2017?

Reports suggest that BMC Switzerland will only remain the title sponsor until the end of the 2017 season

Bicycle manufacturer BMC Switzerland is trying to find a new sponsor for its American WorldTour team so that it can step out of the title sponsor role.

Reports at the Tour de France, where BMC Racing are competing with Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen this month, say that the owner Andy Rihs wants to leave as early as the end of the 2017 season.

>> Subscribe to Cycling Weekly this Autumn and save 35%. Enjoy the luxury of home delivery and never miss an issue <<

French newspaper L’Equipe reported this morning that Rihs told those close to him that his company will end title sponsorship at the end of 2017 and become just the bike supplier.

“I’m pretty close to Andy, I haven’t heard that one. No,” Team Manager Jim Ochowicz said of the news.

Ochowicz added that “eventually yes” Rihs wants to step down in his sponsorship. “It’s hard for a bike sponsor to carry the whole load. There’s a few still doing that.

“It’s difficult, Cannondale, Trek, Giant are trying to hold up the whole team with the majority of the budget. I don’t know what those numbers are for them, but our numbers are petty high.

“For a bike company to hold that is not an easy thing to do forever. I’d agree with Andy, that the ultimate goal is to find a title sponsor and have BMC as a supplier sponsor like Specialized or someone else.

“Eventually that’s the goal. The goal is to get someone as a title sponsor and BMC as a supplier sponsor.”

BMC Racing at one point was reported to be one of the biggest budget teams, now it is reportedly between €16 and €18 million.

The average WorldTour team budget is around €14 (£11.85) million with some outfits like Team Sky enjoying £24 million.

Get behind the scenes with BMC Racing

This winter, BMC confirmed it would continue at least through to the end of 2017. Ochowicz, contrary to the report in L’Equipe, said that there is no indication of when BMC might leave the title sponsorship role.

“We just keep moving forward like any other team. It’s imperative that BMC Switzerland continues as a bicycle manufacture because they are our title and their existence seems to depend on our existence as well.

“They seem to be doing fine, I’m not in the bicycle business, but all indications to me are that they are doing well, the profits are there, and they are making some good movements forward.

“That’s the whole idea behind this team, it’s to help grow this business.”

This season is the 10th for BMC, which began as a US continental team. It became professional continental, signed Australian Cadel Evans in 2010 and after joining the WorldTour ranks, won the Tour de France in 2011 with Evans.