Alberto Contador and Bjarne Riis
Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank manager Bjarne Riis was close to mental collapse as his Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank cycling team faced what was close to insurmountable challenges.
In addition to top-notch stage racer Alberto Contador serving out the remainder of his doping suspension—he’ll be eligible to race the Vuelta a Espana—and the team’s near miss of losing his ProTour license put a strain on Riis.
Riis confirmed his mental exhaustion to Danish TV company TV2 (via TV2 and CyclingNews):
“I was totally down and close to a complete collapse. I spent the whole day lying in my bed with drawn curtains, because it was impossible to grasp. I could not see an end to it. If they take our license, the entire life's work I've done ... it falls apart.”
Things are looking better for both Riis and his Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank cycling squad, as the team’s ProTeam status temporarily isn’t in question.
The team will now hunt individual stage wins during the 2012 Tour de France, and look for big results throughout the remaining races this season.
During the Tour de France, Danish rider Michael Morkov has worked hard to extend his mountains classification polka dot jersey. It doesn’t seem likely he’ll be able to hold the jersey as the Tour looms closer to the bigger mountains, but is a worthy goal for Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank.
Contador will return in August to compete in the Vuelta and the season-ending world championship. Also, the Russian-based Tinkoff Bank is a co-sponsor, and looks to be dedicated to being at least a short-term partner.