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Cancellara says Saxo Bank and Riis were no longer right for him

Fabian Cancellara smiles on the podium

Fabian Cancellara smiles on the podium (Image credit: Luca Bettini)

Fabian Cancellara has revealed that Bjarne Riis' dominant character was one of the reasons why the Swiss rider decided to leave Saxo Bank. The four-time world time trial champion spoke to the Berner Zeitung about his decision to leave Saxo Bank for the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project.

“Bjarne has a very clear idea about how it works. Whoever doesn't fit has to go,” the Swiss rider said.  “For certain people this opened the opportunity to go their own way, to develop themselves. With him, everyone does what he says.”

It was not so much that Riis was too powerful, more that, “for some people things just weren't right any more. For example, there is the knowledge that you just weren't yourself when he was there.”

Since signing the agreement to leave Saxo Bank, Cancellara hasn't had any contact with his former boss, but said that it will come with time.

“It is surely not easy for him.  But he is the boss and I am the rider who has to make sure that things are right for me – and that wasn't the case any more.”

With the departure of so many other riders and the arrival of Contador, “I realized, I would be alone.  Bjarne was my boss, and I surely profited from him – but he profited from me, too.”

Cancellara also added that Riis has changed over the last few years, starting with Ivan Basso being pulled from the Tour de France squad in 2006 because of Operacion Puerto.  “He has had some tough years behind him. Things went one after the other:  the Basso case, the Schleck case, his doping admission, the problems with the sponsors – one left, and one went bankrupt.

“Things have gone downhill since 2008. Looking back, a lot of things are clearer to me.”

Close relationship to Andersen

Looking to his new team, Cancellara said that Kim Andersen is, “very important” to him.  “I am closer to him in some ways than to Bjarne or any other sport director. Kim always says that the team is there for the riders to turn to, to have someone to say how you feel.”

Explaining further, he said that Andersen has told the riders to let him know, “when something in their environment goes wrong, if for example you have problems with your wife, with your parents, or with someone else. If that is the case, then he will be involved to find the best solution.

“That way everyone is helped, even him, because it doesn't do him any good to have a rider who is not concentrating. You can always tell him if you have a problem.”

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