Bjarne Riis can finally start making concrete plans for the 2012 season, as he learned Monday night that Team Saxo Bank will retain its WorldTour licence for the remainder of the year. However, he still faces the problem of getting enough UCI points this season to secure a licence for 2013.
Having the licence will make a possible future cooperation with Contador easier, he told Ekstra Bladet. “Of course it means something in relation to Alberto and the team. It means everything to us all that we have a license.” says Bjarne Riis.
He was however not ready to address the question of how the team would achieve the necessary points without Contador, who provided two-thirds of the team's points in 2011.
“It is not the time right now. Now we welcome this. We know what we need and how the system works. We must solve a series of tasks, and we'll cope.”
Contador could return to the team as soon as August this year, but a new UCI rule states that riders returning from doping-related suspensions cannot score any points for their team license for another two years following their come-back.
For now however, knowing that the licence is secure this year may help the team, which has only two wins this season, both from Jonathan Cantwell in the Tour de Taiwan. “Now we have peace. But we would like to deliver results. We know we are not at the top of the list, but we also know we have been unlucky.”
Most importantly, Riis now knows what he has to do. “We know the tasks that face us at both the sporting and business plans. It's easier now, now we can start to do something.”
Riders relieved and ready to work
Michael Mørkøv called the UCI announcement “really good news, it's the news we have all been waiting for a very long time. It means a lot that we can be in the races we planned for, but it also means a lot for the team to remain in the first division. That is where we all really want to be and compete.”
He was convinced that the riders would rise to the occasion and bring in the necessary points. “Absolutely. So far we have not scraped together as many points this year, but we struggle every day to do. We are doing everything we can.”
Nicki Sorensen was pleased to have the ordeal over. “We've really gone and been nervous. It has been a nightmare where you are constantly thinking through all the scenarios,” he told spn.dk.