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Bjarne Riis returns to WorldTour as Team NTT manager

Joe Robinson
8 Jan 2020

Virtu Cycling enters partnership to co-own the WorldTour licence alongside Doug Ryder's NTT

Bjarne Riis will return to WorldTour cycling after a five-year absence as his role as team manager of Team NTT has been confirmed. The former team manager of CSC and Saxobank announced his new job at Team NTT – formerly Dimension Data – at a press conference on Wednesday.

Danish company Virtu Cycling, which Riis co-owns, has become co-owner of the WorldTour team alongside South African Doug Ryder. Despite the purchase, the team will remain registered in South Africa.

Riis commented on the new partnership stating: 'This is a proud moment for our organisation, Virtu Cycling, and I’m really excited by this partnership and its potential. Together, I believe we can develop one of the world’s best cycling teams built on being performance and technology-driven, combined with our many years of experience from the WorldTour.

'We have had some thorough and fruitful talks and meetings with Doug Ryder on the team’s future and potential. I’m really looking forward to our collaboration and to take on the sporting leadership of the team in this new setup.'

Riis has been keen on a return to the WorldTour since selling the Saxobank team to Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov in 2015.

He attempted to establish several Danish-based teams, such as Virtu Pro Cycling, yet none gained enough momentum to return Riis into the WorldTour.

Most recently, it was rumoured that Riis was in talks with Danish window specialists Velux to sponsor a new team, but the parties were unable to agree on a deal for 2020.

Riis's determination to have a Danish-based squad in the WorldTour is focussed around Denmark hosting the Tour de France's Grand Depart in 2021 in the capital Copenhagen. 

While Riis returning to the WorldTour is unsurprising, it is likely to frustrate certain sections of the cycling community.

Riis raced during the mid-1990s, winning the Tour de France in 1996, a period that we now know to have been fraught with doping.

During his career, he raced at teams such as Gewiss-Ballan and Team Telekom alongside riders such as Jan Ullrich and Evgeni Berzin.

After years of vague and ambiguous responses to doping-related questions, in 2007 the Dane finally admitted to taking EPO, cortisone and growth hormone from 1993 to 1998, including during his 1996 Tour win. However, his victory remains on record.