Ekstra Bladet reports today that Bjarne Riis has offered to buy back the WorldTour team he sold to Oleg Tinkov in 2013, but the report was swiftly countered by the Russian oligarch.
The Danish magazine cites several sources close to the team and Riis that a deal is in the works, but Tinkov himself responded to the news to Cyclingnews.
"I don't know what crazy Danish journalists are up to," Tinkov wrote in an email. "It must be obsession dream for Riis to buy my team back. Anything has its price and if Riis and his backers come with the right price I would definitely consider it based on ROE [Return on Equity -ed] base. I still believe that cycling can be a business."
Riis sold the team to Tinkov in 2013 for a reported €6 million, at the same time securing himself a position in the team to the tune of €1 million per year. Tinkov and Riis parted ways earlier this year after a falling out.
The team has an estimated budget three times the previous sale price, with high profile riders like Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador drawing large salaries. Riis would have to come up with a hefty sum to cover Tinkov's price, and after being caught up in the Danish doping investigation this year, he admitted his credibility has taken a blow.
Yet Riis has maintained a close friendship with Lars Seier Christensen, the co-founder and CEO of Saxo Bank. There was speculation that Saxo Bank would withdraw as sponsor of the Tinkoff-Saxo team after the split between Riis and Tinkov. Seier has since stepped down from his role at Saxo Bank, but maintains his position as a major shareholder and brand ambassador.
The team registered for the 2016 WorldTour under the name Tinkoff.