Bjarne Riis is returning to cycling

Bjarne Riis took the first steps toward a return to pro cycling on Thursday, revealing a project with business partner Lars Seier Christensen that will seek to gain a WorldTour license by 2017.

The project will generate revenue from alternative sources, including nutrition and training apps, a test center in Mallorca, a bike tourist villa in Tuscany, and stationary bikes combined with virtual simulation, similar to programs like Zwift, TrainerRoad, or BKool. The two have put in 3.9 million euros of their own cash to kickstart the project.

Riis was apparently close to reaching a deal to manage the Bahrain Cycling Team but he is facing competition from other team managers. Vincenzo Nibali has been linked to the Bahrain Cycling Team after his agent Alex Carera was contacted by the prince and Nibali went for a ride with him last February before the Dubai Tour.

Riis refused to talk specifically about links to the Bahrain Cycling Team and admitted the WorldTour team project could slip a year and only begin in 2018.

“We are not just a cycling team. We create a foundation that holds water,” Riis said. “We will build the bike up in a different way than you’ve seen before. The goal of the business is that it must be sustainable.”

Riis was the longtime owner of the SaxoBank team, and before that CSC, until he was bought out and made general manager by Oleg Tinkov at the end of 2013. He was removed from that post in 2015, and has been outside the sport since then.

“For the first time since I was seven, I’ve had the chance to take a break from the sport. And it has been hard when you have so much passion for the sport that I have,” he said at a press conference in Denmark. “It has been instructive to see the sport from the outside. It has given me the opportunity to see how the sport can be improved and made more professional.”

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