Bjarne Riis may be back in the peloton in 2017, and with the support once again of Saxo Bank, according to the Danish media. Riis and Saxo Bank CEO Lars Seier Christensen are said to be looking at returning at WorldTour level.
Such high aims would seem to eliminate the possibility of the duo moving in to help the Cult-Stölting team. Cult Energy earlier this week announced it was immediately withdrawing from sponsorship, with both Cult and Stölting blaming each other. Stölting has said it hopes to proceed with the team in the coming year. With the team already having been granted a Danish licence, Riis and Saxo Bank would seem to be a good fit according to the Danish media.
Christensen was not available for comment, but Saxo Bank spokeswoman Cathrine Kier told Bt.dk that “Lars has the earlier said that he will only go into cycling again, if it is on the top level.”
Riis and Christensen have worked together since 2008. The bank stayed on as sponsor after Riis sold the team to Oleg Tinkoff, but its sponsorship expires at the end of the year, and Christensen is leaving the bank in January. Riis left the team in March 2015 after falling out with Russian team owner Oleg Tinkov.
Bt.dk reported that the pair have met a number of times recently. On December 4, Christensen posted photos of a dinner with Riis in Mallorca, saying cryptically, “Wonderful bar in Palma de Mallorca, Abaco. And also an interesting talk about the future with s Tour de France winner. We still have a little further to go.”
There has been previous speculation that Riis would try to buy back the Tinkoff-Saxo team, or become involved in MTN-Qhubeka, when the African was searching for a new sponsor for the coming year. However Tinkoff is set to continue without a second sponsor in 2016 and MTN-Qhubkea has secured sponsorship from Dimension Data and Deliotte.