Bjarne Riis has been removed from active duty at Tinkoff-Saxo, the team have confirmed, but not due to a knee-jerk reaction because of the team’s poor performance or financial issues as was previously reported. Cyclingnews understands that the reason for the suspension is due to differences between himself and team boss Oleg Tinkov. Riis will not perform his duties as directeur sportif while he and Tinkov work out their differences.
“Following the rumors and speculations published by many Danish media first and then by international cycling media later last night, Tinkoff Saxo would like to clarify that Bjarne Riis is not being actively involved in the team’s activities since last Sunday. However, he was not suspended of his active role because of lack of results nor for financial issues,” the team wrote in a statement issued today.
“The team management has full confidence in the technical and performance team, in all the riders and staff members and is currently working to establish the best way forward in the racing season. No decisions have been taken and any formal and final decision on any team member – if taken – shall be communicated at the appropriate time. Until then there will be no further comments on this matter.”
Riis was due to be in the Tinkoff-Saxo car at this weekend’s Milan-San Remo but rumours of his suspension arose when he did not appear at the race. It was immediately linked with Tinkov’s recent demand for better results – as the team have only secured two victories this season with only a stage of the Ruta del Sol and Tirreno-Adriatico thus far.
Tinkov bought the Tinkoff-Saxo team from Bjarne Riis in the winter of 2013, after returning as a team sponsor. Riis was kept on as the lead directeur sportif on a three-year contract worth €1 million a year.