Over the years, at the Tour of California, US Pro Cycling Challenge and Tour de France, I had the opportunity to do a number of short interviews with BMC boss Jim Ochowicz.
He always struck me as a basically nice, down-to-earth guy but also a careful, conservative CEO in his dealings with the media. Ask Ochowicz a question and he’d always give you an answer but it tended toward the generic and scripted. It was exec-speak and if you were looking for a juicy nugget of a quote, he wasn’t the person to provide one.
His careful approach with the media is somewhat at odds with his no-holds-barred statements about the UCI and rider safety and the ongoing political battles between the governing body of the sport and ASO, the powerful organizer of the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix along with several other marque events.
In those cases, Ochowicz seems unafraid to verbally unload on what he sees as chronic mismanagement, glacial reform and endlessly poor dialogue between cycling’s stakeholders. He’s gone pretty high-profile and stuck his neck out on numerous occasions.
All that was a long set-up to what we read today in cyclingnews about how Ochowicz handled Tejay Van Garderen after the riders’ crushing disappointment in the 2015 Tour de France. Turns out that behind the scenes and away from the media, the BMC boss is also a different guy. He’s a thoroughly modern, touchy-feely CEO.
According to the story, Ochowicz put the shattered Van Garderen in his car and together they left the Tour de France immediately and drove across France to his home on the southern coast. There were still a few stages left in Le Tour but he took it upon himself to personally take care of his physically and emotionally battered rider.
The revealing, touchy-feely quote was this one: “On that journey we were more like friends. We didn’t have to talk if we didn’t want to but eventually we talked and figured out what happened. The body is unpredictable and the mind is as well, and so I let him talk and then I talked. At that point it was about getting him home, letting him have some time to unwind and then look at the next step.”
We have to say, we’re impressed with the way Ochowicz handed that situation. It shows a real sensitivity and a genuine concern for the person, not just the rider. We’re now officially revising our personality profile on Ochowicz. Chapeau — the man is a CEO gush ball.