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The BMC Racing Team has announced the passing of long-time owner Andy Rihs, who founded the team in 2007 and helped it secure victory in the 2011 Tour de France. The Swiss businessman passed away in the Susenberg clinic in Zurich, Switzerland on Wednesday after what the team said was ‘a patient and valiantly-endured illness.’ He was 75 years of age.
“Andy was not only an owner and main sponsor of BMC Racing Team, but also a friend who enjoyed life and loved sharing that joy,” said the team. “With him, an exemplary visionary, an avid sports fan, a passionate cyclist, and a great supporter of sport has left us. His generosity, his sense of humour, and his infectious laugh have shaped the man that has been by our side since the beginning of BMC Racing Team. Our grief is indescribable, but we will carry on his values.
“Not least thanks to the great commitment from Andy, BMC Racing Team has been able to develop so well in both a sporting and economical sense. Andy has served as an inspiration to us all.”
Rihs previously founded the Phonak team in 2000. Financed by his hearing aid company, it disbanded in 2006 after Tour de France winner Floyd Landis tested positive. Rihs also owned the BMC bicycle company and returned to cycling the following season with a much smaller team backed by that brand.
It gradually expanded and won the Tour de France in 2011 with Cadel Evans. Other significant victories include Philippe Gilbert’s 2012 world road race championship victory, and worlds’ team time trial championship victories in 2014 and 2015.
The team has been searching for new backing in recent seasons. Team President Jim Ochowicz has said he is hopeful that something will be secured in the coming months. Australia’s Richie Porte is one of the team’s key riders and is expected to start this year’s Tour de France as one of the main favourites.
A number of riders and others in professional cycling paid tribute to Rihs upon learning of his passing.
— Fabian cancellara (@f_cancellara) April 19, 2018
Five great years at BMC with Andy Rihs! Lots of respect for this man and everything he has achieved. My thoughts are with his family and friends #restinpeace
???? Photonews pic.twitter.com/K2aOKkkISr
— PHILIPPE GILBERT (@PhilippeGilbert) April 19, 2018
— Fabio Aru (@FabioAru1) April 19, 2018
Very sad to hear about the passing of one of cyclings biggest supporters. Someone who did so much for the sport through pure passion. Rest In Peace Andy Rihs. My thoughts are with his family, friends & everyone associated with @BMCProTeam.
— Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) April 19, 2018
Such infectious passion and always an inspiration. Thank you for the good years and opportunity… https://t.co/aevzhrO3Mv
— Brent Bookwalter (@brentbookwalter) April 19, 2018
The best Boss you could ever had. Such a nice and inspiring person. He will be deeply missed. RIP Andy pic.twitter.com/JKMEkWF8Za
— Manuel Quinziato (@manuelquinziato) April 19, 2018
Rest in peace Andy Rihs. Very sad to loose a great boss, a real leader and a passionate cyclist. Proud to have been able to share a lot of years on the side of such a Great Man @BMCProTeam . All my thoughts to his family, friends and team.
— John Lelangue (@johnlelangue) April 19, 2018
Very sad news. Rest in peace Andy Rihs https://t.co/0sDgbbUJLm
— Koen de Kort (@koendekort) April 19, 2018
Very sad day for cycling with the death of Andy Rihs. I was always impressed by his modesty and kindness. He will be very missed. Our condolences to his family and the whole @BMCProTeam
— Paul De Geyter (@Paul_DeGeyter) April 19, 2018
RIP Andy Rihs. A great patron of cycling and a great wine lover! My condolences to his family and friends.
— Jonathan Vaughters (@Vaughters) April 19, 2018
— Michael Tomalaris (@miketomalaris) April 19, 2018
Very sad to wake up to the news of Andy Rihs passing . He was a great man with an even greater joie de vivre.. it was an honor to work for him and be friends with him . Rest In Peace!!
— ghincapie (@ghincapie) April 19, 2018
The BMC Racing Team extended condolences to Rihs’ friends and family. “We will keep Andy in everlasting memory and forever be grateful for his friendship and support.”
All of us at CyclingTips also express our sympathies.