Bjarne Riis leaves manager position at NTT Pro Cycling after only a year

Things are looking bleak for NTT Pro Cycling. First the team announced that title sponsor NTT, a Japanese telecommunications giant, was withdrawing its support after only a year. And now Dane Bjarne Riis, the 1996 Tour de France winner, is leaving his position as manager after only a year. Riis’s Virtu Cycling company also had a minority share of the team and considered purchasing the whole entity, but has abandoned those plans.

NTT Pro Cycling was Team Dimension Data from 2016 to 2019 and Team MTN-Qhubeka before that. It has been a WorldTour squad since 2016.

In a team statement, Douglas Ryder, the outfit’s principal and founder, said: “I’d like to thank Bjarne for the experience and leadership that he has brought to our environment, and the contribution he has made. We’d like to wish him all the very best for the future.”

NTT was the penultimate-ranked WorldTour team this year, with three ProTour teams ranked ahead of them. Israel Start-up Nation was the last-ranked WorldTour squad. NTT had a Grand Tour win at the Giro d’Italia courtesy of Ben O’Connor, who is off to AG2R-Citroën with fellow new guys Greg Van Avermaet and Bob Jungels.

Ben O’Connor won on Madonna di Campiglio at the Giro d’Italia this season. Photo: Sirotti

CCC was another WorldTour squad on the ropes after losing its title sponsor; in September ProTour team Circus-Wanty Gobert stepped in to purchase the team’s operating company, Continuum Sports and its WorldTour license, retaining CCC manager Jim Ochowicz. It was only two seasons ago that CCC merged with BMC and took over the latter’s WorldTour license. Nineteen of the 27 members of the 2020 lineup have found new rides, including three with Circus-Wanty Gobert.

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