Bjarne Riis of Saxo Bank-Sungard has professed himself to be “surprised” at the actions of teams Leopard Trek and RadioShack. The two teams announced on Monday evening that RadioShack will take over sponsorship of Leopard Trek, with the team to be called RadioShack-Nissan-Trek next year.
"Like most people, I am surprised by the merger," Riis told sporten.tv2.dk. "But they must have their reasons, but I don't know what they are."
RadioShack-Nissan-Trek will feature this year's second and third-placed Tour de France finishers, Andy and Fränk Schleck, as well as two-time Tour runner-up Andreas Klöden. Riis however does not believe that the team will be able to challenge Alberto Contador next year, and was looking forward to the coming season.
"It will be fun to beat them. That's how I see it. I still have the best man."
A number of riders on the Leopard Trek team initially came from SaxoBank and with the merger of the two teams leaving some riders looking for contracts Riis did not rule out the possibility of re-hiring some of his old riders and staff.
Team members' reactions
The situation is somewhat confusing, however, as a number of riders affirmed that they have two-year deals and do not intend to move. Like many others, Joost Posthuma of Leopard Trek learned of the actions through the initial press release and having had no communication from the team is still in the dark on what his future may be.
"I know nothing, the only thing I know for sure is that I'm signed through 2012 with Leopard Trek," he said on his website. “I expect to ride with this team next year. For the rest I stand with my back against the wall and I can only wait."
Tom Stamsnijder found himself in a similar position. "Yes, I'm worried, but I assume my contract will be fulfilled," he told De Telegraaf.
"Only two or three people know what happened. I only learned it all through the media," directeur sportif Thorsten Schmidt told the dpa news agency. "Right now it is totally uncoordinated. Personally, I have several offers to consider, but I assume that my contract is still in effect."