Cyclingnews understands that Bjarne Riis has been suspended from Tinkoff-Saxo for the poor performance of the team. The absence of Riis at Milan-San Remo, where the team previously announced he would act as directeur sportif, has sparked the rumours that the Danish manager has been suspended, possibly as a result of owner Oleg Tinkov's demand for better results.
The team announced last Thursday that Riis would be in the car at Milan-San Remo with Bruno Cenghialta, but he was not at the race. BT reports that an internal message from Tinkov announced Riis was suspended, but it could not confirm the news with CEO Stefano Feltrin, Riis or Tinkov.
"Where have you heard that? You may talk to Bjarne Riis or Oleg Tinkov about it. I can not comment on the kind of rumors," Feltrin said to BT.
Bjarne Riis partnered up with Tinkoff Credit Systems ahead of the 2013 season when the team was facing a sponsorship shortfall. The next year, Riis sold the team, which he has run since his retirement, to Tinkov.
Since the sale, Tinkov has taken a great personal interest in the team, and is often seen in a Tinkoff-Saxo kit out training with the riders. He was reportedly unhappy with the lack of victories by the team. So far this season, they've won only two races: Alberto Contador won a stage of the Ruta del Sol, and Peter Sagan a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Tinkov pais Riis a reported €6 million for the team and a million a year for 3 years.