Bjarne Riis has criticised the UCI points system for skewing the true worth of riders and forcing teams to pay over the odds in certain cases. While the Saxo Bank manager admitted that he was unable to secure all of his desired reinforcements on the transfer market, he is satisfied that his team has been strengthened.
“I’ve put together a fine group, maybe even better than in 2011. I’m very happy with the manpower I have at my disposal,” Riis told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Certainly, I wasn’t able to get all of the riders that I wanted, but that’s ok. With certain figures, it’s not easy to sign riders. The market really seemed out of control to me.”
Riis pointed the finger at the current points system, which made riders with WorldTour points prized commodities as teams scrambled to secure their places at cycling’s top table.
“The points system has made prices rise too much in respect to their actual values,” he said. “We need to watch out, because it doesn’t seem that there are too many teams around with mountains of money to spend, we risk exploding the entire movement. We’re living in a very dangerous situation: Leopard (which failed to find a sponsor and merged with RadioShack – ed.) is a clear example.”
While Riis acknowledged that his team does not possess the same strength in depth as the high-spending BMC, he is confident that Alberto Contador will be well supported at the Tour de France, should he ride. The Court of Arbitration for Sport is set to decide in mid-January whether Contador should face sanctions for his positive test for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour.
“I’m convinced that he will be really strong, stronger than ever,” Riis said of Contador. “We’ll focus all of our efforts on the Tour to help him. I don’t have a group like BMC, which can make two big teams of equal value for the Giro and the Tour, but I have various riders who can obtain results in other races.”
Riis also expressed his belief that Contador has “room for improvement on all terrains, even though he is already a phenomenon.” According to the Dane, Contador “can improve the strength of his legs and back. For the time trial, we’re studying something. Alberto has a great desire to improve, so for that reason, I will follow his preparation programme directly.”