Saxo Bank holds team get-together in Israel

Alberto Contador and Bjarne Riis talk to the media at their pre-Tour press conference.

Alberto Contador and Bjarne Riis talk to the media at their pre-Tour press conference. (Image credit: Sirotti)

Bjarne Riis has long been known for his unusual team training camps, which often incorporate some sort  of survival exercises, and he is continuing that tradition. The 2012 Saxo Bank team will meet up ahead of next season for the first time this coming weekend in Israel.

Meanwhile, Riis must also worry about his own team's survival, as an International Cycling Union spokesman indicated the team could face the possibility of losing its WorldTour licence if Alberto Contador is banned. The Spaniard's doping case is currently being heard by the Court of Arbitraiton for Sport, with a decision expected sometime in January.

“I can say so much that there will be a survival exercise, which we will take advantage of at some point," Riis said.

He did not confim the location, but says the team will be in Israel from November 28 to December 11.  It would apparently be the first time a top-ranked team has done its season prepation oveer there.

The reason for the choice may well be new signing Ran Margaliot. The 23-year-old rode as a stagiaire for the team this season and subsequently signed a one-year-contract. He has said he hopes to become first Israeli to ride the Tour de France.

Loss of WorldTour ranking possible?

Riis has received the good news that his WorldTour licence has been renewed by the UCI for one year. However, according to, he could stand to lose that ranking if Contador is suspended.

The licenses are to a large part awarded through points won by riders on the team, and Contador provided a large majority of Saxo Bank's points this season. If he is banned, the team loses these points, the Danish website said.

“It is always possible for a team to lose a license,” UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said.  “The UCI can always ask the licensing commission to reconsider the situation if a team's sporting, economic, ethical or organizational conditions change.

“A team is awarded a license in December, but only so long as the licensing commission determines. If the team's situation completely changes in January, it could lose its license.”

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