Jakob Fuglsang eyeing possible return to Saxo Bank in 2013
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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Jakob Fuglsang eyeing possible return to Saxo Bank in 2013

by Ben Atkins at 1:54 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Danish rider considering a reconciliation with Bjarne Riis after two years away

jakob fuglsangJakob Fuglsang is considering a possible return to the Saxo Bank team in 2013, according to BT/sporten.dk. The 26-year-old Danish rider spent the first three years of his professional career with Bjarne Riis’ team, before departing at the end of 2010; heading to the new Leopard Trek team, which was set up around Luxembourg brothers Fränk and Andy Schleck.

Fuglsang stayed with the team as its roster merged with that of American team RadioShack; he was to have led the RadioShack-Nissan team to the Giro d’Italia, but was forced to withdraw with a knee problem. The Dane has already expressed his reservations about his position in the team however, with its high number of potential Grand Tour contenders, and now seems set to leave when his contract expires at the end of the year.

Whether or not Saxo Bank would be his destination is not clear, but he is certainly not ruling out a reconciliation with Riis.

“It could be a possibility, and it might be interesting, but there’s nothing more to it right now,” he told BT/sporten.dk. “There is still a long way to go before there is a signature on a piece of paper.”

There have been reports recently of disquiet in the RadioShack-Nissan team, particularly after the decision to leave former Leopard-Trek manager Kim Anderson out of the Tour de France staff.

Fuglsang describes things as “very different” to how they were in 2011.

A return to Saxo Bank would certainly tick a lot of boxes for both parties; a Danish rider seeking Tour glory rejoining a Danish team with similar ambitions should suit everybody. It’s not the nationality of the team that appeals to Fuglsang however, but the stability that has always existed in Riis’ teams.

“It doesn’t necessarily matter that I’m riding for a Danish team,” he said. “But it would mean a lot to me to be able to join a team that is well organised, and where I can feel good.”

There was a certain amount of acrimony however, as the mass exodus that followed the Schleck’s from Saxo Bank to Leopard-Trek - which, as well as Fuglsang, included Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O’Grady and Jens Voigt - saw Riis forced to rebuild his team. All seemed to be going well, as new acquisition Nick Nuyens won the Ronde van Vlaanderen - outsprinting Cancellara - and Alberto Contador won the Giro d’Italia and placed fifth in the Tour de France.

However, Contador’s retrospective suspension, for his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France, stripped the Danish team of most of its International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour points. Saxo Bank had to rely on the goodwill of the UCI licensing commission to hold onto its place in the top division, and a fractured hip sustained by Nuyens in the Paris-Nice prologue has seen the team suffer a lean Classics campaign.

Whether or not Contador remains with the team in 2013, Riis will have to sign some riders with points if Saxo Bank is to remain in the WorldTour. Unfortunately for Fuglsang, his injury-hit season so far means that he is not very attractive in this respect, but remains hopeful that this will change.

“I have it in my mind that I must go out and find a new contract for next season, but conversely that doesn’t make me a worse or better rider,” he said. “It’s still early in the season, and there’s plenty of time to get a new contract.”

Currently at RadioShack-Nissan, Fuglsang is a long way down the pecking order for the status of captain at one of the three Grand Tours. Ahead of him are the Schleck brothers, plus American Chris Horner, and German Andreas Klöden; things would be different though, if he were to return to his former team.

“We have a strong team at RadioShack and I was allowed to be captain in the Giro, so it's fine,” he said. “But at RadioShack, there are several captains, or potential captains, you might say. More than with Riis”

Was Contador to remain with the Danish team in 2013 however, Fuglsang does concede that he would be second string behind the Spaniard.

"Regarding to the Tour, it's hard to say what’s going to happen with Alberto Contador,” he said. “If Riis has him next year, then it's probably not an option for me to ride the Tour as captain for Saxo Bank,"

From the Saxo Bank side, it would appear that the door is potentially open for the rider who was once the prodigal son of Danish cycling.

“Of course Jakob is an interesting rider,” said the team’s communications director Anders Damgaard. “He will be seen as such by a lot of teams, and it’s great if he thinks that we are for him, but there’s a long way between that and actually agreeing a deal.”

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