The news broke early this morning, that Saxo Bank director sportif, Kim Andersen, would be leaving Saxo Bank with immediate effect ahead of the Tour de France. Andersen is leaving the team to work with Bryan Nygaard on a ProTour team to be based in Luxembourg.
Immediately, the names Andy and Frank Schleck were thrown into the mix - "How could they not be?," Team owner, Bjarne Riis, remarked this morning that he would have words pertaining to the subject later in the day. Riis spoke with Politiken.dk's Mogens Jacobson about the new development and confirmed that the Brothers Schleck will more than likely be involved.
"We would indeed be naive if we think that there will be a team in Luxembourg without Andy and Frank."
The 1996 Tour de France winner commented on his talks about the future with the Schlecks, but notes that nothing was concrete.
"Of course, I have previously talked about the future with both Andy and Frank, but we are not in direct negotiations right now, and some might suggest that it goes in the direction that it doesn't need to go."
The next name to go along with Andersen's team is unsurprisingly Danish time trial champion, Jakob Fuglsang. Fuglsang has been vocal about his desire to know exactly what is happening with Riis's team in 2011. Even more, Fuglsang now lives in Luxembourg and is close friends with Andy. This is a fact not lost on Riis.
"I have no doubt that the Luxembourg project hangs closely together with the fact that Jakob has not signed the agreement that we actually agreed upon at one point."
Riis refuses to admit bitterness on the developing story, but does wish things could have been handled a bit differently.
"I'm neither disappointed, nor bitter about the development that has happened. I cannot allow myself to be, because every person has the right to make his own choices and take responsibility for his own life. Perhaps it would have been nice to see more transparency on the matter though."
"That the news appears on the day of the Danish Championships is bad timing, but it is not me who leaked the news. I had expected to announce it in the next few days, because anyone would be able to see that Kim wasn't at the Tour...The decision was already made at the Tour de Suisse, when it became clear that there was nothing else to do. Most of the riders who will ride the Tour, were in Switzerland, and they were told, and all others who needed to know, were informed."
The news of the team is not a surprise to Riis. In moments where the rumor mill churns, the manager of the team is certainly not the last to hear about an upcoming thunderstorm.
"The rumors have been out for some time. I also have eyes and ears, and get to know things, and when I found out that Kim had interests other than Team Saxo Bank, I saw no alternative than to part ways."
Earlier in the day, VeloNation reported that the loss of Andersen in terms of the day to day directing of the Saxo Bank team at the Tour de France would be a difficult hurdle for Riis to overcome, but Riis flatly denies Andersen's importance in July: "It does not matter."
Riis is not giving up on his goals for July, no matter what the news for 2011 might bring. He stressed it to his team, and now he's stressing it to the outside world: "When I gave riders the report on Kim's departure, I stressed very strongly that they and I still have the common goal of winning the Tour. If along the way, a rift develops in the team, I will make sure that things are put in place."
Nygaard is the former communications director for Saxo Bank, and was brought over to Team Sky this year by the team's former Senior Sports Director Scott Sunderland. Both have recently left the British ProTour squad, which could mean that Sunderland might find his way back to cycling with alongside Andersen and Nygaard at some point in the future.