BMC Racing general manager Jim Ochowicz is optimistic of saving his team from potential collapse as it hustles for a new naming rights sponsor beyond this season.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
14 May 2018 - 12:33 PM 

Speaking at the Amgen Tour of California, Ochowicz said there wasn’t an imminent deadline to meet the task following the recent passing of team owner Andy Rihs.

“It’s an ongoing process that still continues. There is no confirmed title yet but activation is always happening daily. Sure, I’m optimistic,” Ochowicz told Cycling Central from the start of stage one in Long Beach.

Tour de France contender Richie Porte has reportedly given Ochowicz until this month to find a solution before considering looking at other stables for 2019.

Ochowicz said he has been updating riders and staff “all the time” as the team celebrates success, including that of Rohan Dennis, who marked a stint in pink at the Giro d’Italia, and looks forward to July and Porte’s concerted yellow jersey bid.

“They know what is going on. Nobody is in the dark. The general message is keep at it,” Ochowicz said of internal communications.

“We compete for dollars with everybody else and our model has to show value in order for us to find the money. In the end, you could start to make some comparisons but at the moment I don’t think so. It’s a fair shot to get money and if what we have has value someone will take it.”

It’s the second time in less than 12 months that a top-tier American-registered team has been threatened with closure through want of naming rights sponsorship.

EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale general manager Jonathan Vaughters resorted to crowd funding last year before securing a deal with EF.

“It’s incredibly stressful. There was probably three months there where I really didn’t sleep for more than three or four hours a night,” Vaughters told Cycling Central in California.

“It was really hard because if it all goes south it’s on all your shoulders as the manager. You are seen as the captain of the Titanic, you’re the dumbarse that ran into the side of the iceberg.”

Speaking in general terms, Vaughters said the prominence of private backers in cycling has contributed to a marketplace “set-up for failure”, and vulnerable to inflation.

“It’s a little bit like BMC is dying by their own sword,” he said. “You have these billionaires coming in and it’s buy, buy, buy, so then the whole marketplace inflates. All of a sudden, you’re in BMC’s position where the billionaire is gone and you have to go into the commercial marketplace and try to commercially sell a product that’s price has been massively inflated by an enthusiast.”

“It was really hard because if it all goes south it’s on all your shoulders as the manager. You are seen as the captain of the Titanic, you’re the dumbarse that ran into the side of the iceberg.”

Vaughters believes managers would be hard-pressed to find a commercial entity willing to invest the same amount as that of such enthusiasts or state providers, especially when other international sports not 90 per cent reliant on sponsorship offer more exposure for less coin.

“The first step to solving the economic model issues in cycling is putting really firm limits on how much can be spent as a total [team] budget. That should be legislated, the teams should contractually amongst themselves say nobody can spend more than this,” Vaughters said.

“Sponsors coming in would understand the value they’re getting. Right now, a sponsor says they have €10 million to spend, can they have the best team because that’s a lot of money. No, you can’t. It’s more like €30 million.

“That’s limiting because once you get into those €20 – 30 million figures, which is what BMC is looking for, you bring yourself into a realm where there are very few companies that are going to make that kind of spend on any sport,” he said.

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