The cycling world waits with baited breath as Bjarne Riis and Saxo Bank co-founder Lars Seier Christensen keep us waiting on the announcement of their latest cycling project, but one thing is for sure – they won’t be buying back their former team.
Riis was bought out of the Tinkoff team back in 2013, while Saxo Bank pulled their sponsorship at the end of the 2015 season.
With Oleg Tinkov set to walk away from the sport at the end of this season, the stage could be set for the Danish duo to step straight back into the WorldTour, but Christensen said in a blog post that they would not be taking Tinkoff’s licence.
He wrote on his Seier Capital blog: “Without spilling all the beans, let me give a bit of direction as to where the project is going, or not going:
“Yes, of course the project has at least something to do with cycling.
“No, we have not bought back the old team even though it is clear that my friend and former partner, Oleg Tinkov, wants to pull out of the sport next season.
“Yes, it is a broader project in order to create a stronger economic foundation than that normally associated with a cycling team.
“Yes, there will be partners involved, but we cannot necessarily disclose who at this time. But the interest has been substantial and we are grateful for that.”
Reports have circulated in recent days that Riis and Christensen will join forces with Bahrain royal prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, head of the country’s Olympic Association to create a cycling team.
While we will have to wait until Thursday’s press conference to find out Riis’s intentions, Christensen revealed a few more details of the challenges they will try to overcome with their new team.
“One of the difficult things about being involved in sports teams is the tendency for all income eventually to feed through to players’ (or riders’, as it may be) salaries,” he wrote. “A sponsor wants to see his money go to a strengthened squad, not to beef up the team owner’s bottom line.
“This is a perpetual problem in sports, and it needs to be addressed. I think The Riis * Seier Project addresses this in new and innovative ways, and that is what we will present on Thursday.”