American team still searching for sponsor as BMC bike brand pulls out
The future of BMC Racing seems in serious doubt after general manager Jim Ochowicz said that he has yet to secure sponsorship for the 2019 season.
The BMC bike brand, which was owned by Andy Rihs until his death in April, will end its sponsorship at the end of the 2018 season, with Ochowicz struggling to find a backer to step in as a replacement title sponsor.
“I still have no white smoke about the future of the team,” Ochowicz told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. “At the moment I cannot put together a team because I have no money.”
Ochowicz and others in the team management has reportedly set themselves a target of early May to find a new sponsor. However with this time having now passed Ochowicz says that there is no deadline for finding a replacement for BMC.
“I do not want to put a deadline on finding that much-needed sponsor,” Ochowicz continued. “Even the Tour is not a deadline for me. At this moment, I simply can not say anything.
“I am confident that the riders will continue to focus on their job, also in the Tour. The current situation will not affect that.”
The American, who was behind the 7-Eleven squad from 1981 until 1995 and has also managed the USA Olympic team, founded BMC Racing in 2007, and remains confident that he will not only be able to find a sponsor, but will also be able to sign good riders even if the team’s future is not secure until later in the year.
“I realise that I could lose a number of riders, but that would be the case even if I had sponsor because there are a lot of riders end of contract,” he continued. “However, I also know that every year some toppers only sign with a team in December.”
With the team’s future up in the air, rumours are already circulating that some of its biggest name riders are preparing to jump ship.
However the uncertainty about the team’s future is causing a delay in the usual transfer market, with some teams holding off on making other signings in order to make sure that they have the budget to bid for the likes of Richie Porte or Rohan Dennis should they become available.