The CEO and co-founder of Tinkoff-Saxo sponsor, Saxo Bank, says he hopes that Bjarne Riis’s suspension from his duties as manager can be lifted soon in an amicable manner, and has offered to mediate between the Dane and team owner Oleg Tinkov.
Yesterday, the team confirmed that Riis had been stood down from his duties, as Danish media had reported on Monday evening, but denied that the team’s poor start to the season was to blame.
That has led to speculation that Tinkov, the Russian entrepreneur to whom Riis sold the team’s management company in December 2013, has pushed the 1996 Tour de France winner out ahead of publication of a report from Anti Doping Denmark from which he is not expected to emerge well.
Writing on Facebook today, Lars Seier Christensen, co-founder of the financial services business that co-sponsors the team, also said Saxo Bank had not been party to the decision to suspend Riis.
“Of course, I respect Oleg Tinkov’s right as team owner to conduct his business the way he wants,” he wrote, “but I would also like to underline that Bjarne Riis’s able leadership is a big reason why Saxo Bank has been a sponsor of the team for eight seasons."
He said that Saxo Bank would honour its commitment to the team over the 2015 season, saying:“I have spoken personally with the parties involved during the past few days, and there is nothing, in my opinion, that prevents the issue from being resolved amicably, if that’s what they really want."
He added that the first thought should be for the team’s staff and riders, and added: “Whether in sport or in business, disputes sometimes arise, and the major personalities around the team are all known for their passion.
“But you have to find a compromise, and it can be found here too.”
Christensen concluded by saying that he plans to attend the Tour of Flanders a week on Sunday, and that he hoped to experience the race “with my partners and friends, Oleg and Bjarne.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.