CSC downplay money rumours

Rumours that lack of money could force CSC to pull out of the Pro Tour are totally off the mark say


PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Danish outfit Team CSC have told procycling that their participation in the UCI Pro Tour has not been put in jeopardy by financial problems, contrary to current rumours. Team spokesman Brian Nygaard confirmed that team boss Bjarne Riis is eager to secure a co-sponsor to boost CSC’s pulling power on the transfer market. While in recent weeks other teams such as Phonak, Gerolsteiner and the Discovery Channel have been busily recruiting talent to lead their Pro Tour campaign in 2005, CSC have been confined to the role of envious spectator. The arrival of a co-backer in the coming weeks would presumably change that. “We hope to have some good news in the coming weeks,” said Nygaard of the possible cash injection this evening. “Either way, the future of the team is not under threat, and neither is our participation in the Pro Tour: Team CSC’s Pro Tour application has already been approved. Our concern is more that, with 28 riders per team in the Pro Tour, we would like our budget to be increased for next year.” Nygaard concluded by pointing out that CSC has been managed on a budget substantially tighter than those of other top-ranking teams in 2004. He was also quick to reject Danish newspaper reports that Riis and his riders were now paying the price for earlier extravagances: “It has been written in the Danish media that we were flying to races in business class early in the season. That is rubbish, complete rubbish,” he said. While CSC can sleep easy in the knowledge that star rider Ivan Basso is tied to the team for the 2005 season, procycling sources in Denmark suggest that eleven of the Riis’s 25-man outfit will be out of contract at the end of the season. They include Bobby Julich, Andrea Peron and procycling columnist Frank Hj. According to speculation emanating from the Vuelta a Espana, Erik Zabel has already approached Hj about fulfilling lead-out duties for the German at T-Mobile next season. The Danish ace’s mentor and CSC directeur sportif Alain Gallopin is also thought to be considering a move. Of the riders remaining at CSC, while Jens Voigt and Jakob Piil add to the team’s firepower, they may be exerting a strain on its financial resources. Voigt’s two-year contract extension, signed in the final week of the Tour de France, is believed to have doubled the German’s salary. Piil’s wages are due to undergo a similar hike in 2005, Danish sources indicate.