Team Luxembourg and Saxo Bank battle began in June
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Team Luxembourg and Saxo Bank battle began in June

by Samuel Morrison at 10:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Nygaard and Andersen admit hiring started before the Tour de France

Team Luxembourg's top brass, Brian Nygaard and Kim Andersen, learnt their trade at Saxo Bank. The percentage of riders in their new team, which will debut in January, gives the impression they also raided their former team for talent.

The mission began as early as June and ended with the announcement of Fabian Cancellara's contract last week.

"Kim and I began to hire riders in mid-June," Brian Nygaard told Denmark's Jyllands-Posten website.

However, Nygaard rejected claims of disloyalty from Saxo Bank's boss, Bjarne Riis.

"According to my knowledge we have not acted unfairly."

Dane Nygaard abruptly left his post as team Sky's press officer following the Giro d'Italia in May to become the General Manager of Luxembourg's new team. He joined Sky last year after working with Riis for many years, including when the team won the 2008 Tour de France with Carlos Sastre.

Shortly before this year's Tour de France, Riis fired Dane Andersen after seven years as a sports director. Riis had heard rumours about the new team and that Andersen was to be involved. Andersen became the Team Manager.

"Now, I have hired Kim Andersen as senior sports director," said Nygaard in June, "the sports management is also as strong as it can be."

The two started built the team around Luxembourg's biggest stars, Fränk and Andy Schleck – both from Saxo Bank. Andy finished second the last two editions of the Tour de France and won the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic last year.

Six more riders came from Saxo Bank: Jens Voigt, Dominic Klemme, Jakob Fuglsang, Stuart O'Grady, Anders Lund and Cancellara. Cancellara's contract was 25th and final contract Nygaard and Andersen announced.

Cancellara said, "It is a unique mix of familiar personalities with new surroundings."

Riis retaliated by hiring three-time Tour de France winner, Alberto Contador in August. However, tests later revealed he ingested Clenbuterol at the Tour de France. Contador will have to wait for a ruling by Spanish authorities before he may be able to race for Saxo Bank.

Riis will be looking for revenge against his former employees at races as early as the Tour Down Under in January. Without Contador, he will likely rely on Richie Porte and Nick Nuyens to lead throughout the season.


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