Van Avermaet, 33, assumed the race lead from overnight maillot jaune Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) after BMC powered to victory in the stage three time trial.
It was a happy turnaround for the team and Australian title contender Richie Porte, who exactly 12 months ago crashed out of the race with a fractured pelvis and clavicle.
However, the reality of BMC’s situation outside of the Tour was inescapable, even in the face of a victory that put the squad back on strong footing following two unexpectedly hectic days.
General manager Jim Ochowicz has remained optimistic about his chances of finding a new title sponsor following the passing of owner Andy Rihs in April. Yet reports of rider and staff departures are growing.
Porte has been linked to a two-year deal with Trek-Segafredo from 2019, while Damiano Caruso and Rohan Dennis have apparently outlined terms with Bahrain-Merida.
Asked about his contract future, Van Avermaet said he was not thinking outside of the Tour at the moment.
“I hope for sure the team can continue. We are always there in the top three to five teams in the world. I think we really deserve a new sponsor to build especially Andy’s dream a little bit further,” he said.
Pundits outside of the race have speculated the team’s uncertain future has contributed to unrest and low morale within the Tour squad, but showed otherwise in Cholet yesterday with a united display.
“It’s a hard business and our model of cycling is not the best to invest in,” Van Avermaet reflected on the WorldTour’s general structure that regularly sees squads come and go through want of sponsorship.
The former Paris-Roubaix champion added to the familiar argument that a sponsorship dependent model - without other forms of revenue through broadcast rights or merchandising - is flawed.
“This business model has to be different. We have a lot of smart people in cycling, but it’s never really changing. To invest as a sponsor, you have to get something more back than only getting your name [on a jersey]. It’s always hard for every team,” Van Avermaet said. “I would say to a sponsor, it’s a great sport and I still do believe in it.”
The general outlook on the team time trial changed for many of the Tour title contenders yesterday following crashes in the opening two stages that cost Porte and defending champion Chris Froome, among others, time.
Porte lessened his deficit with BMC’s victory and now sits 14th overall – 51 seconds behind teammates Van Avermaet and Tejay van Garderen.
“I still have a few stages in mind where I can come close to stage victory and this would be even better,” Van Avermaet said.
Day 3 of the Tour De France 2018 saw a great performance by BMC to win the stage and grab the yellow jersey. Jens Voigt came around and didn't mince his words.. as usual. We also talk tech with Patrick Rossier, the head of sports operations and services at Tissot, the official Timekeeper of the Tour de France on what it takes to record the time, on a team time trial.