Losing his major sponsor has been a hard blow for Bjarne Riis, but the Dane isn't ready to throw in the towel yet. “This team is my life's work. I will not give up,” he said. Saxo Bank announced earlier this month that it would stop its sponsorship of the team at the end of the 2010 season.
In an interview with the Danish website sporten.dk, Riis denied media speculation that he was disenchanted and discouraged. Quite the contrary, “I am more motivated this season than ever before. I have too much to give to cycling and especially to this team.”
Riis, 45, acknowledged that one day he may be “forced into” quitting the sport, “because of things I don't have control over. So I will just face it. But it has nothing to do with my desire.”
He hopes that day will be a long way off. “I still have so many ambitions, things I'd like to try before I start thinking I shouldn't have a cycling team any more. I can easily see myself doing this for many more years.”
“I am convinced we have more fans than critics,” he added. “When I sit and look as my riders being cheered on stages, I am very proud. This team has helped put Denmark on the world map.”
He concluded: “We have given so much to Danish sports. So to hell with the critics. I think there are many who would be sad if our cycling team stopped. I certainly would be.”
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