Former Saxo-Tinkoff team owner Bjarne Riis could be ready to re-enter into cycling. The Dane will make his plans public at a meeting in Copenhagen on February 25 says the man behind the Saxo Bank sponsorship, Lars Seier Christensen.
There is speculation that 51-year-odd Riis could be set to buy back the team he sold two years ago to Oleg Tinkov – team Tinkoff with stars Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan. Tinkov already announced that he will try to sell the team and that he will leave the sport at the end of 2016. Seier Christensen’s Facebook post on Wednesday only fuelled that rumour.
It read: “OK. There seems to be interest in my and Bjarne Riis’s cooperation. Thank you for that! We are both looking forward to announcing our plans for the Riis * Seier project at a press conference the 25th of February, 12:30 at Hotel d’Angleterre. Thanks for the interest and the support. Kind regards, Bjarne Riis and Lars Seier Christensen.”
Seier Christensen was a former director of Saxo Bank and oversaw the Danish bank’s sponsorship of Riis’s team for eight seasons, from 2008 to 2015, when Fabian Cancellara ruled the classics and Carlos Sastre won the 2008 Tour de France. Seier Christensen and Riis continued to remain close friends after Riis sold the team to Tinkov in December 2013 for a rumoured €6 million.
Riis has since survived a Denmark anti-doping investigation which left him unharmed due to the statute of limitations. Following that ruling in June 2015, he was linked to several cycling projects and often seen at the race with his sons. Riis’s 23-year-old son Thomas Nybo cycles at the continental level for team Trefor.
Instead, Riis may make a splash into cycling’s deep end. Massimo Zanetti, man behind coffee giant Segafredo, already explained that Riis was trying to secure his backing before he decided to co-sponsor Trek. Tinkov’s wish to leave the sport and Riis’ link to the team, since 2014 licensed in Russia, make the buy-back rumour all the more plausible.
If the two friends were to buy the team they would need around £5 million, but in turn they would have World Champion Peter Sagan who is still on contract for 2017 along with four others including best climber in the 2014 Tour de France, Rafal Majka. Spaniard Contador, with whom Riis won the Vuelta a España twice, plans to retire at the end of 2016.
The exact details will have to wait until February 25 when Riis and Seier Christensen announce their plans at one of Copenhagen’s finest hotels.