Bjarne Riis suspended from Tinkoff-Saxo team?

Bjarne Riis has been suspended from his position as team manager at the Tinkoff-Saxo team by owner Oleg Tinkov, according to a report filed by Danish news outlet BT on Monday evening.

Riis sold his stake in the WorldTour team to lead sponsor and Russian billionaire businessman Tinkov at the end of the 2013. The team switched from being registered in Denmark to Russia for the 2014 season. Riis stayed on as manager as part of the deal, but now it appears as though he may be on his way out.

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Tinkov has not held back in what he perceives as the team’s lack of results and poor race tactics in recent weeks. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, Tinkov berated Riis during Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy, where Tour de France hope Alberto Contador finished fifth.

Riis was not present at Milan-San Remo in Italy on Sunday, a race that he would normally attend. Tinkoff-Saxo new signing Peter Sagan placed fourth. Though Tinkov was charitable about Sagan’s performance, he was not so forgiving of Matti Breschel, whose ride he described as ‘ridiculously stupid’.

Riis found himself at the centre of controversy in 2007, when he admitted to taking banned blood booster EPO during his professional riding career, including 1996 when he won the Tour de France. Riis has been linked to an on-going investigation by Anti-Doping Denmark into historical doping practices, though it is unclear whether this has any bearing on his suspension.