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by Shane Stokes
April 1, 2015
Photography by Shane Stokes
Issuing a brief statement in the wake of his parting of ways from the Tinkoff-Saxo team, Bjarne Riis has bid farewell to the squad he owned for more than a decade and said that he is stepping back from media contact until he works out what he will do next with his life.
The former professional rider, who won the 1996 Tour de France but later admitted to doping to do so, sold the team in December 2013 to the Russian entrepreneur Oleg Tinkoff.
He remained on as general manager at a salary rumoured to be one million euro per year.
However tensions rose between himself and Tinkoff and there were reports of a major argument during Tirreno-Adriatico.
The team confirmed last Tuesday that he had been sidelined, although it said that the decision was neither due to a lack of results nor financial issues.
The team then confirmed on Sunday that he and the squad had reached a mutual agreement to “terminate all contracts entered between Tinkoff Sport A/S and Bjarne Riis with immediate effect.”
Riis said that he had received requests to give his side of the story, but would decline that course of action.
“Because of this agreement various medias are now enquiring interviews with me, which I both understand and respect,” he stated. “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 than 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 am certain you will achieve the results you aim for. I wish you all the best of luck.”
In relation to what happens next, it appears that he will be taking a break from professional work in the immediate future. It remains to be seen if he returns to cycling in another capacity or with a different team.
It is rumoured that he could face a lifetime ban when the upcoming report from Anti Doping Denmark is published, although others have said this is unlikely due to the statute of limitations.
He gave little away in talking about what he will do next, at least in terms of employment. “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 this life professionally going forward,” he explained.
“During this period of time I will not make myself available for medias.”