Bjarne Riis and his business partner Lars Seier Christensen announced the management company behind what they hope will be a new 2017 WorldTour team, but the press conference in Copenhagen offered little else.
The two Danes would not comment on creating a team with Bahrain prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa or on buying back Riis’s former WorldTour team licence from Russian Oleg Tinkov.
They did say, however, that they invested £3.9 million (37m Danish Krone) for the Riis/Seier Holding Company and are looking for sponsors.
“The most import thing is to have this company with a solid foundation that can make money,” said 1996 Tour de France winner Riis. “It needs to run regardless if the WorldTour team starts or not in 2017.”
The only thing certain in Copenhagen was that it was a cold 5°C. Journalists gladly entered the five-star Hotel d’Angleterre for the 12:30 press conference but were not warmed by concrete ideas.
Riis and former Saxo Bank CEO Seier Christensen explained that they would provide a new type of spinning bike and a test centre for elite cyclists, and create a fully catered training stay at a villa in Lucca, Italy. They also said that they are looking for backers to have a Danish WorldTour team in place by 2017 or the latest, 2018.
Riis has already owned a team, CSC/Saxo Bank, from 2000 through 2013 and produced Tour de France and classics wins before he sold it to Oleg Tinkov. The team now races as Tinkoff and with a Russian licence, and is up for sale.
The Danish duo want to earn money with their training concept based in Lucca so that their management company is not dependent on sponsors.
“A World Tour Team can be created in many ways. We can do it ourselves or go along with some others,” Riis added. “When/if we are to be back with a WorldTour team, so it can work with this concept.”
Seier Christensen said that he talking with several potential sponsors and needs one or two big ones to make the Danish team a reality. Riis added, “Lars and I have a huge ambition, but it has to match the earnings.”
On Sunday, Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa announced that he wanted to begin a team for 2017 that could reportedly have 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali from team Astana. Nibali travelled to Bahrain and rode with the prince prior to the 2015 Dubai Tour. For now, it appears to not be connected to the Riis/Seier Holding Company.