Bjarne Riis has confirmed that Fabian Cancellara will leave Team Saxo Bank at the end of this season, although he still has a year on his contract.
“I would say that Fabian and I have made an agreement that he can be released from his contract. This means that he is not looking at our team for next year,” Riis said in an interview on TV 2 Sporten Saturday afternoon.
“Fabian and I have had some fantastic years away, but it must end now. We agree that it is best that our paths separate. And we look forward to some new goals. Fabian cannot be replaced. So be it. But there must be a willingness and desire to ride on our cycling team,” Riis said, implying that Cancellara no longer met that criterion.
Cancellara abandoned the Vuelta a Espana Friday only 20km into the stage, much to the apparent displeasure of team management. The world time trial champion told Sporten.dk that same evening that he was “thinking of my own ambitions and goals right now.”
Cancellara would be only one of many big names to leave the Danish team. Brothers Andy and Fränk Schleck are leaving to form a new team in Luxembourg, Matti Breschel is going to Rabobank, and both Stuart O'Grady and Jens Voigt have said they will leave as well.
Riis has signed Tour de France winner Alberto Contador for the coming year.
Cyclingnews will have more on this story as it develops.