The Tinkoff-Saxo team has parted company with manager and former team owner Bjarne Riis this evening after a brewing feud between him and new owner, Oleg Tinkov.
Danish BT newspaper leaked the news this evening that the team fired the Danish 1996 Tour de France winner. The team confirmed it with a press release.
Tinkov wrote on his Twitter account yesterday that an official announcement would come today. He and Riis had a falling out during the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race earlier this month.
Riis sat home while the team raced Milan-San Remo with Peter Sagan and the Volta a Catalunya with Alberto Contador.
"The Managing company and Bjarne Riis have reached a mutual agreement to terminate all contracts with immediate effect," read the press statement.
"Tinkoff-Saxo would like to thank its title sponsors, Tinkoff Bank and Saxo Bank, as well as all its other sponsors and suppliers for their continued support and confidence shown in the team."
The Russian/Danish team said that early next week it would announce Riis' replacement and a new technical team. Italian Omar Piscina, who was a sports director in Tinkov's first team, Tinkoff Credit Systems, is tipped to take over for Riis.
The 50-year-old from Herning, Denmark, became a team manager in 1999 with team Home-Jack & Jones and took over control of the team as it became CSC and Saxo Bank.
Riis sold the team to Russian businessman Tinkov in December 2013 for a reported €6m. He became team manager for a rumoured €1m a year.
For Riis, who admitted to doping for his 1996 Tour win and is involved in an investigation at home, it is an unlikely end to his sporting career. With Tinkov’s move, Danish financial company Saxo Bank could likely pull its sponsorship when its contract ends at the end of the 2015 season.
"I myself have tried in recent days to mediate between the parties and have been in constant contact with both Oleg Tinkov and Bjarne Riis," said CEO of long-time sponsor Saxo Bank, Lars Seier Christensen, on his Facebook page.
"During the process, it has become clear to me that neither of the two, in fact, were particularly keen on finding a solution, [so it] is probably the best outcome under the circumstances.
"Saxo Bank continues its sponsorship ... although we have always made it clear that Bjarne was a very important factor for our sponsorship."
Riis guided Fabian Cancellara to several classics wins and his team to the top of the Tour de France with Carlos Sastre, Fränk and Andy Schleck, and Alberto Contador.
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