Bjarne Riis’s path back into professional cycling could have taken a turn for the better as Cult Energy announced it is withdrawing its sponsorship of the Cult Energy-Stolting Group team next year.
The team has been on the ropes for months, with the search for co-sponsors dating back to before the 2015 season. Then, the team was forced to end its season early as it could not afford to continue paying its riders after September.
Cult Energy was set to join forces with Stolting Group – a German company that already sponsored a Continental team – but the Danes withdrew their sponsorship on Wednesday, claiming that Stolting Group had failed to pay the money they had promised.
CULT can not cooperate with a company different moral values to us. Therefore, we have terminated our sponsorship of today,” said founder of Team Cult, Brian Sørensen, according feltet.dk.
Sørensen promised that his riders would get the money they were due for the for the rest of the season, but with Stolting not taking control of the finances from September as promised, Cult have terminated their sponsorship.
This is where Riis could come in. The Danish winner of the 1996 Tour de France has been looking for a way back into the sport since leaving Tinkoff-Saxo in the spring after a disagreement with team owner Oleg Tinkov.
Cult’s withdrawal from the Cult Energy-Stolting Group partnership could see a number of young Danish talents enter the market, including Lasse Norman Hansen, who signed from Cannondale-Garmin, Rasmus Guldhammer, who placed fourth at the Tour of Britain, and Tour de l’Avenir stage winner Mads Pedersen.
This obviously all depends on whether Stolting are able to fund a Pro Continental team alone or find a willing co-sponsor.
Either way, it sounds like Riis, and Saxo Bank, won’t be away from cycling for too much longer.