Jim Ochowicz is expected to confirm a merger with the CCC Sprandi team on Monday’s rest day at the Tour de France, with funding from the Polish shoe brand saving the BMC Racing team from the risk of closure.
Greg Van Avermaet is expected to now stay with Ochowicz in 2019 and lead the new-look team for the Classics. Richie Porte, Rohan Dennis and Tejay van Garderen have reportedly signed for other teams for 2019, with Porte moving to Trek Segafredo, Dennis to Bahrain-Merida and Van Garderen to EF Education First-Drapac.
Ochowicz refused to comment on reports of a merger with CCC earlier in the week but left the Tour de France on Friday only to return for Sunday’s cobbled stage to Roubaix with the Billionaire CEO of CCC Dariusz Milek and former Polish professional rider Piotr Wadecki. They posed for photographs with Van Avermaet before the start of the stage.
Michael Schär and Nathan Van Hooydonck are expected to stay with the new-look team, with several Polish riders and staff coming on board from the CCC Sprandi Professional Continental team. Giant has been rumoured to be the bike sponsor, with BMC closely linked to the Dimension Data team for 2019.
BMC has announced a press conference for Monday’s rest day but team leader Porte is not expected to attend after crashing out of the Tour de France.
Milek is reportedly the fourth wealthiest person in Poland thanks to his fast fashion shoe empire, with a personal wealth of over one billion Euros. He enjoyed a brief career as a professional rider but is now keen to develop his business by stepping up to WorldTour level.
Pure happiness. Really – I was chasing the victory so long. It’s really hard to describe.
It was a really hard fight all day. It is also a victory of the team. We really had a plan to stay out of trouble all the time, and it worked out really well. It was unbelievable.
This is a very big victory – since a long time… I have been through a lot of things – it was such a hard time. I’m so happy to dedicate this victory to one of my best friends – he passed away last winter. This was really something for him.
Everybody said I’m done, after this accident I will never come back. I said no, I’m not done. I have to make at least one really big victory for this guy, his name is Jörg. He was my second father. It was a horrible accident, and it is a huge loss without him. I’m so happy to get this victory now for him.
There’s no way to make it more dramatic, more nice, more fantastic. I’m totally overwhelmed.
“As you can see, there are a lot of you here to cover my defeats every day,” the Frenchman said to the semi-circular scrum of television cameras and microphones. “I’m obviously very disappointed.”
The reasons were numerous. He was on home turf, Amiens is situated just over 50 kilometres from his hometown of Beauvais. It was also Bastille Day, a day of national celebration when everyone is on the lookout for a home winner.
Most of all, though, it was the last bunch sprint of a first week rich in opportunities, and Démare must now head into the mountains empty-handed.
“It was pretty chaotic, even if I knew the finish like the back of my hand,” Démare said of the run-in to Amiens, where his teammates were on the front for a while.
“I knew the corners were tight, and it was a mess. My teammates were up front, but then I don’t know where they went. With around two kilometres to go, it got really hectic.