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by Dane Cash
November 12, 2020
Photography by Cor Vos
Bjarne Riis and NTT Pro Cycling are parting ways.
The South African WorldTour team announced on Wednesday that Riis would be stepping down from the role of manager at the end of 2020.
“I’d like to thank Bjarne for the experience and leadership that he has brought to our environment, and the contribution he has made,” team principal Doug Ryder said in a statement. “We’d like to wish him all the very best for the future.”
Riis tenure is coming to an end at the close of just one year with the team. In January, NTT announced that Riis and his business partners would be acquiring part of the team, with Riis moving into a managerial role. The former pro and former CSC manager quickly stepped into the role of manager and served in that capacity throughout the season, but the planned investment in the team apparently never took place amid a season derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the course of the season, rumors began to emerge about the team’s uncertain future, and in October, it was announced that title sponsor NTT would be departing from that role at the end of the season, leaving the team searching for a new partner for next year.
In the past few weeks, Riis and Ryder have delivered mixed messaging about that search. Riis told Ekstra Bladet last Monday that the hunt for a sponsor was not going well. Later that week, Ryder was more optimistic in a team press release.
Whatever happens for NTT now, however, Riis apparently won’t be a part of it. Riis’s tenure as a manager is coming to a close and that planned acquisition won’t be occurring. As noted by NTT’s Wednesday press release, “Riis and his partners, Jan Bech Andersen and Lars Seier Christensen, along with Ryder, have also discontinued further discussions about a purchase of a part of NTT Pro Cycling.”
Riis’s departure was described as one of “mutual consent” in the team press release.
“To be a part of NTT Pro Cycling during a unique year for all of us has been a great experience,” Riis said, according to the team. “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.”