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'Still the intention' for Bjarne Riis to take part-ownership of NTT team

Bjarne Riis is announced as the new team manager of NTT Pro Cycling at a press conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in January 2020
Bjarne Riis is announced as the new team manager of NTT Pro Cycling at a press conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in January 2020 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Bjarne Riis, who took on the role of team manager at South African WorldTour outfit NTT Pro Cycling at the start of this season, has told the Danish media that he is yet to take part-ownership of the team, but that it's "still the intention", and that he hopes team principal Doug Ryder and he will be able to complete the deal soon.

It was widely assumed that Riis had taken part ownership of the team after being announced as NTT Pro Cycling's new manager in January, but it was revealed in April that a deal had not been finalised with Ryder, who is the current owner of the company behind the team, Ryder Cycling.

"We still have to work out exactly which direction the team is headed in, and it's been difficult under the circumstances we've had in recent months," Riis told Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet on Wednesday, referring to the coronavirus crisis. "Now we're hoping to have a meeting so that we can get everything in place."

Riis won the 1996 Tour de France ahead of Telekom teammate Jan Ullrich and Festina's Richard Virenque, but the Dane admitted in 2007 that he had doped for a large part of his career, including during the 1996 Tour.

Between his retirement in early 2000 and the start of the 2015 season, Riis was the manager of the cycling team perhaps best known as CSC, but which had various other title sponsors during that time, including Saxo Bank and Tinkoff. In 2013, he sold the team to Tinkoff Bank owner Oleg Tinkov, but continued on as manager until the spring of 2015, when he was released from his position.

In 2016, Riis and former Saxo Bank CEO Lars Seier Christensen took over Danish men's UCI Continental team Team TreFor and women's team BMS BIRN, later renaming both squads Team Virtu after the arrival of further investment from Jan Bech Andersen, with the men's team again changing name to Team Waoo in 2018.

Both teams closed down after the 2019 season, and Riis went on to join NTT.

"We just need to get on top of everything, as we're still in the process of closing down Virtu," he said of the pending NTT deal. "But nothing's changed in terms of what we want to do and what Doug wants to do."

Asked by Ekstra Bladet whether that meant that Riis and business partners Christensen and Andersen were still set to buy part of the team from Ryder, Riis replied: "That's the intention."