All the big market moves hinge on BMC Racing confirming a new sponsor for the 2019 season. Greg Van Avermaet and others could be heading to Bahrain-Merida, but wait for the team’s management to confirm its future one way or another.
Deloitte and Giant were both linked to the American WorldTour team last month, the latter should still make the switch from Team Sunweb. However, general manager Jim Ochowicz has yet to confirm the continuation of the team into 2019.
Ochowicz has given himself a deadline of June 17, when the Tour de Suisse ends.
“Everything is hinging on BMC,” said one insider, “and it only benefits Jim.”
Teams wait instead of re-signing their riders. They want to make sure they have the budget to sign a Van Averment, a Richie Porte or a Rohan Dennis at a bargain price if the bottom falls out of the long-running team that won the 2011 Tour de France with Cadel Evans.
Both Dennis and Van Avermaet are linked to Bahrain-Merida, though some say that Van Avermaet could sign a deal regardless of BMC Racing’s future.
If the team continues, it will be called something other than BMC. The bike manufacturer will either supply UAE Team Emirates or Dimension Data next year.
UAE is looking for someone with more money and support than Colnago currently gives, and it also reportedly wanted Mark Cavendish, who has been the ambassador for the Abu Dhabi Tour the past few years. Cavendish should stay put, however, with Dimension Data.
Dimension Data is building with sprinters Niccolò Bonifazio (from Bahrain-Merida) and Phil Bauhaus (Sunweb). It is also trying to find a replacement for Cervélo bikes, which will sponsor the Sunweb team in 2019.
Mitchelton-Scott is searching for a big backer, but seems to have the future services secured of both Adam and Simon Yates. Adam, stage winner and second overall in the 2018 Critérium du Dauphiné, could wait until after the Tour de France to confirm his plans.
The team will lose Caleb Ewan, who should be making significantly more sprinting with Lotto-Soudal. The Belgian team’s long-time sprinter André Greipel says that a renewal contract has not been offered.
Giovanni Visconti could be leaving Bahrain-Merida for professional continental team Wilier-Triestina. The team needs a star to replace Filippo Pozzato, who is ready to retire. With Visconti, its chances of racing certain Classics and the Giro d’Italia would increase.
Trek-Segafredo, who had been looking to sign Simon Yates, will bring on 23-year-old Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF) for 2019. He rode well in several Giro d’Italia stages, placing fourth on the final mountain stage to Cervinia. In 2016, when only 21, he won the Giro’s Sestola stage.