Denmark's 'Eagle of Herning' Riis to start new team

Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:02am EST
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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Former Team Saxo-Tinkoff boss and Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis said on Thursday he is setting up a new team he hopes will compete in cycling's World Tour in 2017.

Riis, 51, won the Tour in 1996 and was feted as the greatest Danish cyclist of the modern era, but subsequently admitted to having doped during his career.

Known as "the Eagle of Herning", Riis has been out of the sport since leaving his post as team manager of Team Saxo Tinkoff in March 2015 following the breakdown of his relationship with team owner Oleg Tinkov.

"I feel ready and motivated to come back to the sport," Riis told a press conference in Copenhagen, although he said he hadn't finalised how the team would be put together.

"I will certainly be involved in a leadership role, as I have been. I won't be involved in everything, but I can see myself in an overall 'helicopter position'," Riis said.

He will be joined by former Saxo director Lars Seier Christensen and they will seek to develop several businesses alongside the team, including simulators and a fitness app.

Riis's acrimonious exit from Saxo-Tinkoff was followed by the withdrawal of Danish investment bank Saxo as team sponsor, and Oleg Tinkov has said he plans to withdraw from the sport after the 2016 season.

Riis came in for strong criticism from the Danish Anti-Doping Authority, which found in a 2015 report into doping in Danish cycling that he was aware of the use of performance-enhancing drugs in his team, but did nothing to stop it.

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor in Stockholm; Editing by Alexander Smith)

Former Team Saxo-Tinkoff boss Bjarne Riis looks on during a news conference in Madrid in this file photo taken on October 10, 2013. REUTERS/Susana Vera