The BMC Racing Team has stepped up a level in 2010 signing world champion Cadel Evans, George Hincapie and Alessandro Ballan. Now co-owner Andy Rihs has revealed the team hopes to be obtain ProTour status in 2011.
BMC is classified as a Professional Continental team this year and Rihs sees the ProTour as the next step for the ambitious team.
“With one of the largest budgets in the peloton, we need to be in it,” Rihs told the Swiss newspaper Le Matin. “Moreover, we will not delay filing our application to be part of the 2011 season.”
The team is registered in the USA, but Rihs and the BMC bike company are both Swiss. The businessman and cycling enthusiast is looking forward to the first Swiss race of the season, the Tour de Romandie, which starts on Tuesday evening.
The race is “a celebration of cycling! There’s a family atmosphere where everyone is rubbing shoulders with great champions,” Rihs said. “The general public never misses this opportunity. And they're right, so much so that I'll be there all week.”
Rihs' previous cycling experience was with Team Phonak but the team was struck by a series of doping problems. Before Paris-Roubaix the BMC team suspended former world champion Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio, after they were caught up in a police investigation in Italy. Last week the UCI suspended BMC rider Thomas Frei, announcing he had tested positive for EPO on the same day Cadel Evans won Fleche Wallonne.
“Thomas made a huge mistake,” Rihs said frankly. “Doping has become very individual. But with the very good checks done by the Swiss Olympic Committee, he had no chance of getting away with it. In his place, I would not even request the analysis of sample B and I’d just say I’m sorry.”