Greg Van Avermaet has said that he will give Jim Ochowicz time to find a replacement sponsor for CCC Team before signing for another team, though the Olympic champion admitted that he was "open to an adventure" at another team.
When BMC withdrew its backing of the team two years ago, Van Avermaet refrained from joining the immediate exodus of talent, and his presence helped to secure the merger with CCC that guaranteed the squad’s future on that occasion.
On Monday morning, Ochowicz confirmed that his Continuum Sports management company is searching for a new title sponsor after CCC decided to end their association with the team at the end of the 2020 season, one year earlier than initially planned.
"I am not eager to experience a second situation like BMC, but I want to make myself available for this team until a certain time. I've been riding for this employer for about 10 years and it would be a shame to let this go,” Van Avermaet told Sporza on Monday.
"Hopefully, there are still sponsors interested in keeping this project alive. I definitely want to work on it. Am I setting a deadline? That's difficult, especially since this is not a normal year. I’m giving the team manager Ochowicz the benefit of the doubt."
Asked about what he had heard from Ochowicz about the search for a new sponsor, Van Avermaet said: "He's in the U.S. and he can't move around much because of this crisis. I can't tell if it looks negative or positive."
Van Avermaet has been with the team – then BMC – since 2011, after joining from Lotto, and he has since won the 2016 Olympics road race, Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem, E3 Harelbeke, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal and Paris-Tours.
CCC Team enacted salary cuts in early April after the season was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, and Van Avermaet told Sporza that he had known for the past month that CCC would not continue as sponsor in 2021.
"This wasn't a pleasant period," said Van Avermaet, who added that his preference was for the team to find a replacement sponsor. "That was and still is the best solution. Above all, we want to have a great year now and find sponsors.
"Do I have faith in the search? There's always a chance somebody will bite. We're positive, and you have to assume that. But it'll be fifty-fifty. I hope for this sport that our team continues to exist."
Despite the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy of cycling, Van Avermaet would not be short of suitors if CCC Team does not survive into 2021. The 35-year-old performed consistently in 2019, though he had to wait until the GP de Montréal in September to claim his first WorldTour victory since the 2017 Paris-Roubaix.
"There's interest in me anyway. My achievements are still there. I was the best one-day rider in UCI races last year," said Van Avermaet.
"I will find a nice team next year anyway. Is there any Belgian interest? That's hard to say. There must also be room and budget. It's not simple. Letting this project live is most important. If there's no sponsor, I'll look at plan B.
"I'm definitely open to an adventure. It's a bit the same story as with BMC. Back then, CCC was found at the last minute, otherwise I might have left as well. I'm open to it. I see myself riding for a lot of teams."
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