Ballan, Hincapie join BMC Racing
By BikeRadar | Tuesday, September 1, 2009 2.27pm
American road racer George Hincapie joins BMC Racing for 2010. Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
BMC Racing has bulked up its roster for 2010, adding current world road champion Alessandro Ballan and US Pro national champion George Hincapie, the team announced Tuesday.
"When we started with the idea of the BMC Racing Team, we had a plan which would one day elevate us to the highest level of professional racing," explained the two partners and co-owners of the BMC Racing Team, Jim Ochowicz and Andy Rihs. "That day is today."
Ochowicz is Hincapie's former director at Motorola, when he raced with long-time teammate Lance Armstrong.
"Our team will have multiple chances to measure ourselves against the greatest teams in the world," Ochowicz added. "We are pleased that we will have the opportunities to send out our most successful riders to tackle these challenges."
Hincapie recently won the US National Professional Road Champion title for the third time in his career and will race for BMC in the 2010 season in the stars and stripes jersey. World professional road champion Ballan, also the 2007 winner of the Tour of Flanders, brings a wealth of experience as a five-year professional.
Other notable riders with great promise and potential joining the team include: Tour de France stage winner (2008) and 2007 Gent-Wevelgem winner Marcus Burghardt from Germany; Dutchman Karsten Kroon, second in the 2009 Amstel Gold Race and a Tour de France stage winner (2002); and Steve Morabito, Michael Schär and Simon Zahner from Switzerland. All riders have signed a two-year commitment with the BMC Racing Team with the exception of Simon Zahner who holds a one-year contract.
The reputation, success and experience of the new riders make it possible for general manager Gavin Chilcott and directeur sportif John Lelangue not only to help the young American and Swiss riders but also allow the BMC Racing Team to become a serious competitor in the 2010 season.
BMC Racing competes in the 2009 Tour of Qatar team time trial
"Definitely the idea of working with the young team and helping to build the program appealed to me," Hincapie explained. "I know a lot of the American racers on the team already and have seen how talented the young Swiss riders are, so I am very excited to help mentor the riders while also focusing on my major goals at the same time."
It was Ochowicz and Rihs' vision for the team which attracted top stars like Hincapie in the first place. From a marketing point of view, the new elite team members will bring broader brand awareness and exposure for the Swiss bicycle manufacturer, BMC.
"The prominent new members of the team will contribute to an increased awareness of the brand BMC and bring a broader interest from the public, especially in the riders’ home countries which are very important growth markets for us," explained BMC CEO Mike Hürlimann, citing a similar model as the Cervelo Test Team.
"I am very happy to be coming to BMC because it has always seemed like a very good team," Ballan said. "I will have new motivation working with them to accomplish my goals for the races like Milan San Remo, Paris-Roubaix and the Belgian Classics."
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BMC will focus on competing in the UCI calendar of American and European races.
"BMC's goals for the next season are ambitious and realistic," Hincapie added. "They have talented riders, are signing even more top guys, and most importantly have the passion and love of the sport which makes the sky the limit for the team."
Hincapie's former Discovery Channel teammate Levi Leipheimer, once rumoured to become part of the BMC Racing squad, has signed a two-year contract with Armstrong's Team RadioShack.
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