With the team’s sponsorship future hanging in the balance, Ochowicz said it plans to maintain its racing license in 2019 in a clear message that the team is confident new sponsors will soon be coming onboard.
“We are optimistic about our chances of keeping this organization in business and we hope to have more clarity very soon,” Ochowicz said Saturday. “Within the last several days a range of highly credible opportunities have presented themselves and we are in discussions with these potential sponsors as we speak.”
Ochowicz did not reveal names or firm dates, but the news comes as the team heads into the Tour with its future remaining unresolved.
The death of longtime owner Andy Rihs this spring following an illness means the team is hunting for new backers. Formed in 2007, the team expanded in 2010 and won the Tour de France in 2011 with Cadel Evans. It enters the 2018 Tour with leading yellow jersey candidate Richie Porte.
The team’s uncertain future comes at a critical time for riders who are anxious to secure their respective futures. Although rules say rider contracts cannot be signed until August 1, top riders such as Greg Van Avermaet and Richie Porte and others are already considering their options if BMC folds.
Ochowicz confirmed the team plans “to maintain our UCI WorldTour license in 2019 and a roster of 24 or 25 riders.”
In a press release Saturday, Ochowicz sent a positive message to suggest the team will be around next season.
“We can feel the energy building as we discuss the exciting opportunities that they will find with us as their partners in the sport of cycling,” Ochowicz said. “It is understandable that everyone is sensitive about their futures as time goes by so quickly, but we are optimistic about our chances of keeping this organization in business and we hope to have more clarity very soon.”
Ochowicz said many of the team’s current sponsors have encouraged management to work to keep the team together.
In another twist, a Luxembourg newspaper reported that Marc Biver, whose brother Jean-Claude is CEO of Tag Heuer — one of BMC’s current sponsors — said he is working on a project independent from BMC to start his own team.
The 66-year-old Swiss briefly ran the Astana team in 2007 and helped organize the Tour de Suisse for many years.
Biver told the daily Wort that he is working to set up a new team, but confirmed that Tag Heuer will not be part of it.