Bjarne Riis leaves NTT Pro Cycling after just one year as manager

Amid uncertainty about the team’s future, Riis has also abandoned plans to buy the team 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bjarne Riis is leaving NTT Pro Cycling after just one season as team manager.

The Dane joined NTT at the start of 2020 after his company became a minority shareholder in the South African WorldTour outfit at the start of the year. 

But amid uncertainty about NTT team’s future, Riis will be stepping down and talks of Riis and his partners buying out the squad have now been abandoned. 

NTT Pro Cycling team principal Douglas Ryder said: “I’d like to thank Bjarne for the experience and leadership that he has brought to our environment, and the contribution he has made. We’d like to wish him all the very best for the future.”

Riis added: “To be a part of NTT Pro Cycling during a unique year for all of us has been a great experience.

“I have a lot of respect for the team that Doug has built and want to thank him for the opportunity. I wish him all the best for the future.” 

Riis came on board of team manager of NTT Pro Cycling, formerly Dimension Data, at the start of 2020 as Danish company Virtu Cycling acquired a minority share in the outfit. 

Virtu, co-owned by Riis and  businessmen Lars Seier Christensen and Jan Bech Andersen, invested in one third of the shares of the team, and was considering a full buy-out of NTT. 

The company had previously sponsored the Virtu Cycling women’s squad, once home to Marta Bastianelli, which was forced to close last season after struggling to find funds to keep running.

NTT Pro Cycling has faced an uncertain future beyond 2020,  Japan-based telecommunications company NTT is bringing its cycling sponsorship to and end after six years, leaving Ryder searching for a new headline sponsor.

Earlier this month, Riis said “time is running out” to find a new sponsor for the team, adding that it does not look good and that there was no new backer on hand. 

But Riis may have spoken out of turn, as just three days later Ryder announced they were “very closing to being on the road next year.” 

>>> Dylan Groenewegen suspended for nine months over involvement in Fabio Jakobsen crash at Tour of Poland  

NTT was not on the list of WorldTour teams for 2021 released by the UCI last week, but Ryder said: “ Sadly, it has not been so good from a sponsorship point of view in terms of our future, but we are piecing that puzzle together. 

In the next couple of days, I think we should be able to say that we will have a plan to move forwards into 2021.”