The news of BMC Cycling backer Andy Rihs’ death was confirmed today at the age of 75.
Swiss-born Rihs, who was a massive supporter of both the cycling and football industries, co-founded a hearing aid company called Phonak in 1994, which quickly became a dominant name in its industry.
In 2000, the company invested in the in the Phonak cycling team. Later that year, Rihs took over BMC, which at the time supplied the Phonak’s bikes. The team disbanded in 2006 after rider Floyd Landis’ Tour title was nullified, following a doping scandal.
Rihs then turned his attention to forming BMC Racing, which officially formed in 2007. The team had significant success in recent years, with Cadel Evans taking a victory at the Tour de France in 2011.
“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. 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,” said a statement released by the BMC Racing Team.
The direct cause of Rihs’ death is yet to be confirmed, but it is believed that he battled an illness for some time before his passing in Zurich on Wednesday evening.
Tributes have been paid by many riders, colleagues and industry publications including BMC Racing general manager Jim Ochowicz, Fabrian Cancellara, The BMC team, Cyclist and Cycling Weekly.