Riis confident about team’s future, will possibly field four Danes in this year’s Tour
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Riis confident about team’s future, will possibly field four Danes in this year’s Tour

by Conal Andrews at 7:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Team Saxo Bank owner Bjarne Riis may currently be looking for a new backer for his team, but the 1996 Tour winner is confident that a solution will be found.

"We have some sponsorship negotiations which must fall into place,” he told Politiken. “Even though I’d like clarification, it won’t be done right away. I hope it comes before the Tour de France. I don’t for one moment doubt that I will have a cycling team for five years.”

Saxo Bank, Riis’s current sponsor, was due to remain until the end of 2011 but utilised a get-out option to conclude its backing by the end of this season. The news came as a surprise to the Dane, who last year lost out on a significant co-sponsor when IT Factory went bust.

He has been searching ever since, and rumours are circulating that he is in advanced talks.

One of the attractions for a would-be sponsor is the clear strength of the team. In 2009, Andy Schleck won Liège-Bastogne-Liège and finished second to Alberto Contador in the Tour de France. Fabian Cancellara dominated the world time trial championships and the Tour de Suisse, took a TT stage win in the Tour de France plus two in the Vuelta a España. Frank Schleck also rode strongly, winning the Tour of Luxembourg, taking stages in the Tour de France and the Tour of California, finishing second overall in Paris-Nice and fifth in the Tour.

There are also other talents on the team, including double Tour of Denmark victor Jakob Fuglsang. Riis feels that the 24 year old has a big future ahead, and expects him to line out in this year’s Tour de France.

In fact, he feels that there could be four Danish riders on the team, with Chris Anker Sorensen, Nicki Sorensen and Matti Bretschel all in the frame.

"I believe that Jakob Fuglsang is one of the greatest talents in cycling,” he said. “I see no limits to his ability. He is a prominent candidate [for a Tour place], and the same applies to the three who were in the picture last year. So Matti, who has missed out [in 2009], and Chris Anker and Nicki.”

The latter impressed in last year’s Tour, winning a stage in what was his tenth pro season. Riis had faith in the 34 year old then, and even considers that he has stepped up a level.

"Perhaps some thought that it would be Nicki’s last appearance in the Tour, but he continues to impress me,” he said. “My immediate assessment now is that he is stronger than ever.”

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