Bjarne Riis: A new chapter beyond cycling

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Bjarne Riis, the 1996 Tour de France winner, is departing the cycling world for new ventures. The Danish news outlet Børsen reported Riis’s decision to leave his longstanding roles in professional cycling as a rider, team owner, and manager. He is now focusing on family and business opportunities, having moved back to Denmark from Switzerland.

Riis has recently co-founded Riis Energy, specialising in heat pump sales, and joined the board of Nørtec, a company selling laundry appliances and electric vehicle charging stations. He expressed a sense of completion regarding his cycling career, stating, “I have been in the world of cycling – that’s a closed chapter. I feel like doing something else. It’s a mishmash of circumstances.”

Reflecting on his personal life, Riis discussed his change of nationality in 2022 from Russian to French. Despite growing up in France to Russian parents and speaking Russian at home, he always felt integrated and French at heart. The decision to switch nationalities was influenced by the exclusion of Russian athletes from international events.

Riis’s career was marred by doping scandals. In 2007, former soigneur Jeff d’Hont’s book exposed doping in cycling, implicating Riis and others. This led to confessions from Riis’s ex-Telekom teammate Bert Dietz and others. Riis himself admitted to using EPO, growth hormone, and cortisone from 1993 to 1998, including during his Tour de France win.

Despite the doping history, Riis still follows cycling as a fan, particularly admiring the Jumbo-Visma team for their skills and pursuit of marginal gains. He critiqued their communication but praised their innovative approach.

Riis was notably absent from the 2022 Tour de France Grand Départ in Denmark. He felt overlooked and expressed disappointment at not being invited, attributing it to uncertainty about his placement by the organisers.

Regarding his doping past, Riis acknowledged the ongoing criticism but emphasised his personal growth and leadership qualities. He reflected on the struggles of his former teammate, Jan Ullrich, who faced addiction issues after admitting to doping. Riis credited his strength and family support for helping him navigate his own challenges.

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