Bjarne Riis is willing to forgive and forget, and indicated he would be willing to talk again to Fabian Cancellara, who left his team after the 2010 season. He also said that while Jakob Fuglsang would fit in well at Saxo Bank-Sungard, he was not interested in talking to riders who had valid contracts with other teams.
Cancellara, who on Wednesday won bronze at the World Championships time trial race, left Riis' team after last season, although he still had one year left on his contract. He joined Leopard Trek, where he has had a less than satisfactory season. The Swiss rider is said to be unhappy with the team's new management for the coming season, sparking rumours he may be interested in transferring again.
According to the Ritzau news agency, this week Cancellara apologized to Riis about the way he left the team, which the team boss accepted. “I always tell my riders not to burn their bridges when they leave. And I think he did that last year, but the world is not so big that you don't meet again.
“I think the people who know me know that I am always open to a dialogue with people who have turned their back on me. Whether it turns into something or not is another matter. If Fabian comes on one day and wants to talk, I'm ready for it,” Riis said.
Looking at Cancellara's performance in the time trial, Riis noted that he did not know what had gone wrong, but that he believed the Swiss rider can come back to his high level, hinting that he could help. “Yes, he can. But then he must come back and get some proper advice.”
Fuglsang was another rider who left Saxo Bank-Sungard for the new Leopard Trek team this season. He has expressed his uncertainty about the changes for the team in the coming year. As far as Riis is concerned, though, Fuglsang is untouchable because he still has a valid contract for the coming season.
“As far as I know, Jakob Fuglsang has a contract and as long as he has a contract, he can not be of interest to us,” Riis said, adding, “Everyone is well aware of how he would fit in” on the Saxo Bank team.
Riis admitted to looking at who might be available following the merger of RadioShack and Leopard Trek, but pointed out a problem. “Who is free and who is not free? You know the riders don't even know.”
With at least five riders leaving his team at the end of the season, Riis must find some new riders. “We have made some agreements, and we will announce those when we believe that the time is right. And we still have some spots open, and will see what opportunities present themselves.”