Ochowicz: There is no deadline to find new title sponsor

BMC Racing’s Jim Ochowicz told Cyclingnews on Tuesday that his search for a title sponsor for 2019 is ongoing and he has not set a deadline for when a replacement for BMC needs to be found.

Richie Porte, the team’s Grand Tour contender, told Cyclingnews in February that May would be ‘crunch time’ time for the sponsor search, and he reiterated the point late last month at the Tour de Romandie. Asked about the search before stage 3 at the Tour of California, Ochowicz said the process takes time.

“It’s not crunch time,” Ochowicz said. “Maybe for some people it is, but it’s not for me. I don’t consider it crunch time. We don’t have a deadline here for this. It’s still the first week in May, more or less. It’s a process, and it takes time. We’re in the midst of that process, so when something happens or not happens and we think it’s time to talk about deadlines and things we will, but that’s not today.”

BMC has no sponsorship agreements in place for 2019, and their entire rider roster and staff are without contracts for next season. The future of the team rests on a new sponsor being found or one of the main existing sponsors like Tag Heuer or Sophos stepping up and providing the needed financial support.

Andy Rihs, the owner of BMC Racing Team and head of bicycle manufacturer BMC, died April 18 at the age of 75 from leukemia, but the company’s continued support of the team was in doubt even before Rhis’ death. 

On Tuesday, Ochowicz said the riders on the team have been told the same thing he told Cyclingnews: the search is ongoing and there is no deadline.

“There’s no hidden agenda here,” he said. “It’s not in flux. Our first obligation is to race today. That’s what we’re paid to do. Currently we’re getting paid, so we have an obligation to fulfil today. We’ll see our obligation through to the end, and that’s the end of 2018, so in the meantime, I’m out searching for a title sponsor for the team. In between all that, everybody is doing what they do.”

Ochowicz got a morale boost in March when 2016 Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet said he would be willing to wait until July for the team to find a sponsor, and that remaining with the program was his top priority despite already getting interest from other teams. 

Van Garderen’s WorldTour win

Long before this season started, Ochowicz told Cyclingnews back in January that he believed Tejay van Garderen would win a WorldTour race before the 2018 Tour de France. Van Garderen’s early season suffered a setback when he was injured in training, and changes in his schedule have landed him at the Tour of California, where he’s currently eighth overall after three stages, exactly one minute behind race leader Egan Bernal (Team Sky).

Asked if he thought van Garderen could claim his first WorldTour stage race win this week, Ochowicz said his rider is still in with a chance. Van Garderen will face his next GC test today with the 34.7km time trial in San Jose.

“It’s borderline on his own predictions, so yes I think he’s within range,” Ochowicz said. “But every day is a different day, so we’ll see what happens [on Wednesday]. We’ll know [Wednesday] night “He’ll be doing the Tour de Suisse after this, unless that changes somehow, because this was not on his schedule either earlier in the season. Because of the injury he got in training, we had to adjust his program a little bit.

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