Bjarne Riis has said Dave Brailsford’s plan to withdraw Ineos from the Tour de France if they don’t feel it’s safe is “selfish”.
“I disagree with Brailsford who said last week that they would decide whether it was safe or not,” Riis told a group of international media outlets. “It is not for him to decide on that. Governments and [race] organisers will do that. I know Christian Prudhomme very well. He really won’t run the Tour if it’s not safe.”
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Ineos boss Brailsford had previously said that while they currently plan to race the delayed Tour de France they will make their own evaluations on how safe this would be, following the same code of conduct that saw the British squad pull out of Paris-Nice a week before the start.
“We would reserve the right to withdraw the team should we deem it necessary,” Brailsford told the Guardian. “Whilst the race is on, we will plan to participate, but equally we will monitor the evolving nature of how things play out, as we did prior to Paris-Nice. This is a sensible, responsible and reasoned approach.”
Riis is instead arguing for unity in decision making and for all parties to do “the best for cycling”.
“At the moment, everyone in cycling has to work together,” Riis said. “We have to do the best for cycling, not for ourselves. That’s why I’m not happy with what Brailsford says. It is selfish. At the moment it is not about yourself, but about the whole sport.
“If we want to be 100 percent safe, we probably have to stay at home for two or three years. I can’t imagine the UCI running a race if it wasn’t safe,” added Riis. “I think we’ve learned a lot from Paris-Nice. We felt safe there, so it is possible to hold a competition. But it is not up to me or you to decide. We should leave that to the experts.”
Riis returned to the peloton this year with NTT Pro Cycling, who are one of a number of teams forced to reduce rider and staff salaries amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The team is currently renegotiating with the Japanese telecom company but if a deal is not reached, Danish skylight manufacturer Velux is apparently ready to step in to financially back the squad.
Ineos have been contacted for comment