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Although French publication l’Equipe has reported that BMC will quit its backing of a WorldTour team at the end of 2017, team owner Andy Rihs has told CyclingTips that the squad is a long term project.
Rihs is the owner of the BMC bicycle company which has bankrolled the team for many years, and spoke to CyclingTips this week at the Tour de France. He said that the squad has had many approaches from potential backers, but was holding out for the right one.
“It is not just about the amount of money,” he said. “To add something to BMC, it must be really an important player who is maybe also able one day to run it without BMC.
“All the time people have been coming to us to speak but until now we have not said yes. It is not excluded that somebody comes. We are also looking out all the time. But we don’t want a medium kind of thing, because BMC is itself a big cycling brand.
“If Apple comes, of course I would not say no. Or Google, or hi tech companies, or Tesla or whatever it is. That would be the image where we would like to go with.”
Rihs’ stated intentions appear to be in direct contradiction to what l’Equipe is saying, namely that after 2017 he would stop the team and instead consider supplying bicycles to another squad.
There was no sign of that when he spoke about the future of the team with CyclingTips, with his comments pointing towards the continuation of the setup. Asked if he needed to find a backer for next year, he said that he was open minded about the timescale.
“I’m pretty flexible. If somebody comes now, if Apple comes now and says, ‘we want to be in next year,’ we will probably do everything to make that possible.
“The important thing is that the sponsor must fit together with the team. Our BMC material is a very high sporting standard. We just make for sports, nothing else. We are the only brand that has four teams around: road, a development team on the road, mountain bike team and triathlon. And we push that. So if you want the Porsches in that area…”
The message seemed clear. The project has a future, but Rihs doesn’t want to just settle for any old backer.
The squad won the Tour in 2011 with Cadel Evans and has two general classification contenders in this year’s Tour, Tejay van Garderen and Richie Porte.
Greg Van Avermaet, Rohan Dennis and Brent Bookwalter are also part of the Tour lineup, while the full 2016 squad includes riders such as Taylor Phinney and Philippe Gilbert.