Marc Biver has confirmed he is creating a new team for 2019 but has made it clear he will not be the savour of the BMC Racing team, which is in a race against time to find a new title sponsor.
The 66-year-old Biver is known for managing the Astana team in 2007 when Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping. He also organised the Tour de Suisse with the IMG management company and worked as an agent for a number of riders, including Tony Rominger.
Biver’s brother Jean-Claude, is the CEO of Tag Heuer, and the Swiss watch brand became a sponsor of the BMC Racing team in 2017. Marc had reportedly been leading the search for new sponsors to replace BMC, but the US-registered WorldTour team has yet to find a backer, with some of its leading riders in talks with other teams for 2019.
Biver confirmed he is no longer linked to Jim Ochowicz’s team and is working on creating his own team. However, he ruled out that Tag Heuer will be a sponsor, and did not specify if the team will try to secure a place in the WorldTour or start at Pro Continental level.
"I can confirm that I'm busy setting up a new team," Biver told Luxembourg newspaper Wort, adding: "TAG Heuer has nothing to do with it.”
"This team has absolutely nothing to do with the current BMC team. It is not the successor. I do not know what’s happening with the BMC team. That's not my problem anymore."
Wort suggested that Luxembourg riders Jempy Drucker (currently at BMC Racing) and Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo) could be part of Biver’s new team, with Greg van Avermaet also linked to the new team in reports in Belgium. BMC bikes has already been linked to the Dimension Data team as a key technical sponsor for 2019 and so it is unclear what bikes Biver’s team would use.
For now, Biver is hiding his plans behind the UCI's rules on team registration and rider transfers.
"I can not say more about this new project, yet. I also have to keep the names of any riders a secret. In fact, according to the UCI rules, contracts may not be signed before August 1, and transfers can’t be confirmed,” he said.
The future of the BMC Racing team has affected the rider and sponsorship market for 2019, with most teams waiting to understand the future of BMC Racing in the hope of signing riders at a lower price.
BMC Racing manager Jim Ochowicz has continued to stress that there is no deadline as he looks to save he team, but he reportedly failed to give his riders and staff any new information on Monday as promised. Ochowicz has told his riders that there are potential sponsors 'in the pipeline' but nothing has been confirmed. Ochowicz apparently has some sponsorship in place but not enough to fund a major WorldTour team.
Cyclingnews has already reported that Rohan Dennis is close to signing with the Bahrain-Merida team, while Cyclingnews believes Tour de France leader Richie Porte will join Trek-Segafredo for 2019.