Andy Rihs, a Swiss entrepreneur, has been involved in cycling for several years now. His years nurturing the Phonak racing team brought him and his companies, Phonak and BMC, to prominence in the cycling world. Though Team Phonak had a much less happy ending than he would have wished, Andy Rihs realized that cycling is not only a beautiful sport, but an extraordinarily effective promotional tool. His love for the sport, and his business savvy prompted Andy to take the sponsorship plunge once again and threw his influence and enthusiasm behind the America-based BMC Racing Team.
Rihs has been following the race this week and was impressed. "You know, I hoped that we would do well, but I never imagined we would do so well," Rihs enthused after the team's performance through Stage 3 of the tour. "We had a few big chances and we took them; it shows how competitive our young guys are," Rihs continued. "Three days in a row we have exceeded expectations, and are having a fantastic time." Rihs also liked the chances for the team to retain the King of the Mountains jersey through the end. "You can't count your chickens [before they hatch], you know, but there are no more big climbs and so long as the boys are feeling well, there is no reason why we couldn't keep the KOM jersey through the end. That would be huge."
Rihs of course appreciates the lift sponsoring cycling teams gives to some of his businesses. However, the real reason he sponsors the sport is because he simply loves to ride his bike. "BMC has joined with Assos to promote what we are calling 'Squadra Mondo' [World Team - ed.], which essentially is our hope to help everyone who loves riding their bikes," Rihs said. "Look at our BMC team. They are aggressive, taking their chances, succeeding and looking great doing it! Our mission is to race bikes for fun, to promote the joy of cycling. The results will come with our passion for the sport," Andy explained. "We are cycling for everyone who loves cycling, who have not lost the pure joy and pleasure of the sport.
"I am part of this 'Squadra Mondo'. We are the billboards for our 'Squadra Mondo'," Rihs proudly proclaimed. "Our team is the test lab to help us and our future partners produce the highest quality materials possible," Rihs explained. "We will ride 1 million kilometres per year, and test all the products which will also be available to the consumer." Rihs is very happy with his young team. "We are a team of young, quality racers who ride because they love the sport." That quality makes Rihs a perfect match for this young, talented team.
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