Brian Nygaard talks about origins of the new team out of Luxembourg
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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Brian Nygaard talks about origins of the new team out of Luxembourg

by Jered Gruber at 1:24 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Quick fast food chain posited as a possible title sponsor

The details of the somewhat mysterious potential ProTour team from Luxembourg for 2011 are starting to become a bit clearer. In an interview with Denmark's, Weekend Avisen newspaper, Brian Nygaard speaks frankly about the origins of the team.

The money behind the team is reported to be coming from extremely successful Luxembourg businessman, Flavio Becca. Becca made his fortune in real estate and is now looking to make a splash on the professional cycling scene.

Nygard takes us back the scant few months that it has been since the idea began to take shape: "It was in Flanders in May this year. Flavio Becca contacted me on the recommendation of Kim Andersen and others, who he had talked to in the industry. We met at a cafe in the Belgian town of Kortrijk. At the time, I just thought that I would help him with some good advice, because the project had already been hurt due to the wrong advice from the wrong people. It was one of those very rare meetings."

Nygaard raves about Becca's knowledge of the sport, and admits to utter surprise when Becca offered him the role of director.

"Flavio is an exceptional businessman who has spent months learning about most everything about professional cycling, as if it were any other commercial activity. I was impressed with his thorough knowledge and recognized his passion. A couple of hours into a conversation that was only supposed to last for about half an hour, he offered me the position of Director. I was flabbergasted, because I had really thought that I needed to do something outside of the sport after working with Sky, but now I was right back in it."

Nygaard contends that he was up in the air as to what to do, but it's difficult to believe, as the team is reported to be working with a nearly 20 million dollar budget. After a closer look at the contract that was sent to him, he was all in on the project.

"I didn't know what to do. I talked with my closest friends, but in fact had already made the decision. I sent the contract to some people I trusted to take a closer look at it, but they could find no traps."

First news of the team began to come out in June, just ahead of the Tour de France. At the time of the news, it looked a bit underhanded, as two former Saxo Bank high ups, Nygaard and Andersen, were both about to start a team while Riis had no sponsor for 2011. The first impressions were of some backroom dealings that looked none too good, but eventually, Riis announced that a sponsor had been secured for 2011 and beyond. Nygard contends that this was an important development.

"It has now been over a year since I last worked for Saxo Bank, so I don't think I owe anyone anything. Are Kim and I not allowed to make our own careers and decisions? I am confident that Bjarne will grant us that freedom, especially now that he has his own sponsorship agreements in place. Believe me, I am sincerely happy for him. For us, it's perfect, at least no one can say that we started a new team because Bjarne couldn't find a new sponsor. Our project has nothing to do with Bjarne, so I think that he's ok with that. I have my own dreams on how I want to do things, so I cannot and will not copy him."

While Nygaard and Andersen will steer the boat of the new Luxembourg team and Becca will stand in the background as the deep pocketed mastermind, the big question is who will take up title sponsorship of the team in 2011.

L'Equipe hypothesized on July 30th that the fast food chain, Quick, might do the honors as the title sponsor. Supermarket chain, Auchan, has also been linked with the team, but a press statement from the business has denied any involvement with the new outfit. Becca's close relationship with the Auchan boss would suggest the likelihood of such an arrangement, but the press statement seems to put paid to the idea.

L'Equipe also notes the simple fact that the riders who are interested in the project want to know what's going on. Most of the team's major plans have been quiet so far, but it seems likely that Becca will have to show at least part of his hand soon to assuage the nerves of the riders the team is courting.

At the moment, a veritable who's who from Saxo Bank have been linked with the Becca/Nygaard/Andersen team: Andy and Frank Schleck, Stuart O'Grady, Jakob Fuglsang, Jens Voigt, to a lesser extent Fabian Cancellara, and Milram's Linus Gerdemann.

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