Leopard Trek management had no idea about cycling, Nygaard says

The people behind Team Leopard Trek in 2011 were outsiders with no understanding of the sport, Brian Nygaard has told a Danish newspaper. He cited various “absurd” situations from the past year. 

Nygaard was dismissed from the team last year when it merged with RadioShack and is now press spokesman for Team GreenEdge. He had served at Leopard Trek, responsible for “budget and results”.

"The people who stood behind the team were not from inside the sport, and therefore there was no understanding that we did not win all the races we competed in. As a starting point, you might not blame them, but the way it was handled, was not very healthy,” he told Jyllands-Posten.

One example he gave was from last year's Tirreno-Adriatico. Leopard Trek finished seventh in the opening time trial, with several riders falling back, unable to stay with the pace most often set by four-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara.

Immediately after the team finished, Nygaard received a call from team management, who asked who the riders were who did not finish with their teammates. After Nygaard named them, he was told, “Ok. Run them to the train station and send them home. If they can not sit on the wheel, they are not good enough. They may come back when they are strong enough.”

He first became aware of what it would be like when he applied for the ProTour licence, Nygaard said, according to the Jyllands-Posten. “The application process is a crazy administrative task, and it's damn easier to send people to the moon than to get a ProTour license. But we had mastered it, and we got a four-year license in the first try.

“However, there was a daily panic from management, who said that we did it wrong and that we would not get it. But we had a plan, we followed, yet there was every week a wild panic and yelling and screaming from above.”

Even when the team did well, it was not enough. Cancellara won the E3 Prijs Harelbeke and a day later Daniele Bennati finished second in the mass sprint finish at Gent-Wevelgem.

“These were two really great races and I remember that everyone on the team was super happy, but there was an enormous discontent from above. I got an angry call, because we did not win both races,” he said. “Getting an earful for it was totally absurd in my eyes.”

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