Bjarne Riis says he needs time to reflect and to be with his family after being sacked as manager of Tinkoff-Saxo, the team he sold in late 2013 to Russian entrepreneur Oleg Tinkov, but is remaining tight-lipped on the specific reasons for his exit.
The 50-year-old Dane was suspended by the team last week, which stressed at the time that its action was unrelated to its poor start to the season or to financial issues.
In a statement published on its website on Sunday evening, the team said all contracts between itself and Riis were being terminated by “mutual agreement.”
It added: “All terms of said agreement shall remain confidential and both parties shall abstain from making any further comment.”
While that prevents Riis from speaking specifically about the exact reasons for his departure, he did issue a statement yesterday evening via the Twitter account of his son, Thomas Nybo Riis, a professional cyclist with Danish Continental outfit, Trefor-Blue Water.
The statement reads:
Yesterday, the management of Tinkoff Sport and I reached a mutual agreement to terminate our working relationship, effectively ending my time as a team manager of Tinkoff-Saxo, a team that I have been a part of and formerly owned for more than a decade.
Because of this agreement various medias are now enquiring interviews with me, which I both understand and respect. But we, the team management of Tinkoff Sport and I, have agreed to refrain from making any further comments on the subject.
My many years with the team have been an extraordinary journey in many ways. And I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and thank everybody, who contributed to making it an unforgettable one – from riders and staff to sponsors and fans.
A special thank you to the riders and staff of Tinkoff-Saxo. Keep working hard, and I’m certain you will achieve the results you aim for. I wish you all the best of luck.
Finally, in the foreseeable future, I will dedicate my time to my family, to my friends, and to thinking through and explore, what I want to achieve in life professionally going forward. During this period of time, I will not make myself available for medias.
One potential explanation for Riis’s sudden departure from the time may be a forthcoming report from Anti-Doping Denmark into the use of performance enhancing drugs within cycling.
In 2007, Riis admitted that he had been doping when he won the 1996 Tour de France. He was stripped of the title by organisers ASO, but subsequently reinstated.
More recently, Michael Rasmussen and Tyler Hamilton, both of whom rode for Riis once he moved into team management, have said that he knew that doping was common on the team, then sponsored by CSC.
Tinkoff-Saxo says it will announce “the new structure of its technical and performance group” shortly.
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.