Bjarne Riis is in France to win the Tour de France and not to influence potential replacement sponsors for the Saxo Bank team. He risks losing his leaders, including the Schleck brothers, though, if he fails to secure a sponsor soon.
“I don’t want to fixate on having the Schlecks in the team,” he told French paper L’Equipe. “My priority is to win in Paris with Andy.”
Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck finished second overall last year, just over four minutes behind Spain’s Alberto Contador. He is currently sixth overall after excelling in the cobbled stage to Arenberg, the same stage where his brother Fränk crashed and broke his collarbone.
Team Sky’s and Riis’ former press officer, Bryan Nygaard is creating a team based in Luxembourg for next year. It is uncertain if the Schleck brothers will join the team, but it would make sense that they would want to race for their home country.
Andy said before the Tour de France that he is in discussions with four different teams: Riis’, Nygaard’s and two yet unknown teams.
“Even if the brothers aren’t in my team in 2011, we are here to win the tour in 2010 – that’s our mission,” continued Riis.
“With our without them, I am optimistic for the future of my team. It doesn’t interest me to know what they will do in 2011. People can’t forget that this is my team. I am the leader of it with my philosophy, and that will never change.”
Saxo Bank’s Fabian Cancellara won the opening stage in Rotterdam and has led the Tour for five days now. Riis said that it was good for the team, but that finding a sponsor did not hinge on Saxo Bank performing well at the Tour de France.
“The sponsors don’t necessarily look of the names of the rider. The people I have contacted are more interested in my philosophy. They have confidence in what I do with the riders and who I sign.”
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