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Seier says Riis project to be independent of Tinkoff licence

Lars Seier Christensen, the former CEO of Saxo Bank, confirmed in his blog today that he is working on a cycling project with Bjarne Riis, but said it does not involve buying back the Tinkoff team from Oleg Tinkov.

Seier hinted that the project will address the economics of running a cycling team, but held off any specifics for Thursday's press conference, which will be held in Copenhagen.

"One of the difficult things about being involved in sports teams is the tendency for all income eventually to feed through to players’ (or riders’, as it may be) salaries. A sponsor wants to see his money go to a strengthened squad, not to beef up the team owner’s bottom line," Seier wrote.

"This is a perpetual problem in sports, and it needs to be addressed. I think The Riis * Seier Project addresses this in new and innovative ways, and that is what we will present on Thursday."

Seier backed the Saxo Bank team for eight seasons while CEO, and forged a close friendship with Riis. There have been rumours since Tinkov summarily dismissed Riis that the Dane would come back to the sport, and there were indications that Riis and Seier were hatching a plan.

Riis was most recently linked to Bahraini Prince Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa in creating a new pro team in 2017 with an eye on signing Vincenzo Nibali, whose contract with Astana ends this season.

"We enjoyed our eight successful seasons with the team immensely, and we won every great race there was to be won during our sponsorship term," Seier wrote. "I still love the riders and team around them and wish them all the best for the future. But all good things come to an end, and Saxo Bank has decided to try something else in terms of marketing in 2016. Therefore, it is also important to stress that Thursday’s announcement is related to Bjarne and me, not the bank.

"Without spilling all the beans, let me give a bit of direction as to where the project is going, or not going: Yes, of course the project has at least something to do with cycling. No, we have not bought back the old team even though it is clear that my friend and former partner, Oleg Tinkov, wants to pull out of the sport next season.

"Yes, it is a broader project in order to create a stronger economic foundation than that normally associated with a cycling team. Yes, there will be partners involved, but we cannot necessarily disclose who at this time. But the interest has been substantial and we are grateful for that."

Any further details will have to wait for Thursday's press conference.

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