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Various reports say a Bahraini Prince wants to create a new WorldTour team, with Nibali as its star. He wants Riis to manage the team and Saxo Bank to co-sponsor.

Photo: Tinkoff-Saxo




24.02.2016 @ 17:06 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Tomorrow, Bjarne Riis and Saxo Bank CEO will announce their plans to fund a new team. Rather than buying an existing team such as the squad the duo used be in charge of, Tinkoff, it appears likely that they will create a new team.


"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,” Christensen said in his blog.


There have been lots of rumours circling around lately about a new team coming out of Bahrain. Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa has seen the growth of bike races in neighbouring Dubai, Qatar and Oman and the success of the Skydive Dubai team and wants to create a WorldTour team for 2017.


The Sheikh is reportedly very interested in signing Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali, who, according to Spazio Ciclismo, met the Sheikh before the 2016 Dubai Tour. The two rode together and Nibali presented the Bahraini prince with a Yellow Jersey from his 2014 Tour de France win.


This seems the more favourable option compared to rumours of joining Lampre-Merida or Trek-Segafredo, as the team would be very rich, allowing Nibali carte blanche to pick what races he does and what riders he takes with him. The team has funds to go WorldTour straight away and can even fund a continental team to develop young riders.


Dutch paper Ekstra Bladet reports that the Sheikh wants Christensen and Saxo Bank as a co-sponsor, as well as Riis to lead the team. Riis could sign all of his riders from Tinkoff bar Peter Sagan, his brother Juraj, Rafal Majka and neo-pros Erik Baska and Michael Gogl, as all have deals with their current team. Even they may become available if Stefano Feltrin, manager of Tinkoff Team, fails to find a new sponsor.


As for bikes, Specialized may be unable to use Riis like in the past, as they have deals with both Tinkoff Team and Peter Sagan. Cervelo may be suitable, as Riis used them back when he was in charge of CSC and they were a successful pairing. Saxo Bank are believed to be signing a three year deal worth 11 million a year to co-sponsor the team.


All will be revealed tomorrow at Riis and Christensen’s press conference.




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