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From the magazine: The Saxo Bank Heist

  • By John Wilcockson
  • Published Jul. 14, 2011
  • Updated Sep. 7, 2011 at 9:33 AM EDT

Late December, 2009
Businessman Flavio Becca begins talks with fellow Luxembourger Marc Biver, the former manager of Team Astana, about setting up a new pro cycling team in the Grand Duchy. Biver later says that Fabian Cancellara is the first rider he approached in connection with the team.
January-February, 2010
Rumors start to circulate that the Schleck brothers, Andy and Fränk, are connected to the proposed team.
Early March, 2010
Saxo Bank team boss Bjarne Riis, commenting on the Schlecks being linked to the potential new team, says: “I heard the rumors [and] went to see them and they denied it. That was disappointing.”
Late March, 2010
Saxo Bank sports director Kim Andresen, the first Dane to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey (in 1983), is said to be helping Becca put together the new team.
April 3, 2010
Becca meets with former Saxo Bank press chief Brian Nygaard at a café in Kortrijk, Belgium, and at the end of a long conversation offers him the job as general manager of the new team.
April 17, 2010
Becca and Nygaard meet for a second time in Maastricht, the Netherlands, to discuss the project in further detail.
May 31, 2010
Following his work at the Giro d’Italia, Nygaard resigns as head of communications at Team Sky and accepts Becca’s job offer to lead the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project.
June 27, 2010
Riis releases Kim Andersen from his directeur sportif position at Saxo Bank and recognizes that the Schleck brothers and Fuglsang will be moving to a new team in 2011.
July 1, 2010
Flanked by the Schleck brothers at a pre-Tour team press conference, Riis announces that the team has agreed not to discuss the situation during the Tour de France. “We won’t speculate on any of these rumors over the next three weeks. We are here as one team, to win the Tour de France together.”
September 1, 2010
Nygaard and Trek announce at Eurobike that Trek has inked a long-term partnership deal with the Luxembourg team to supply bikes, along with Bontrager components and Shimano drivetrains and brakes.
September 7, 2010
Riis sends O’Grady and Andy Schleck home from the Vuelta a España after they went out drinking after dinner on the first rest day. It would be the last time either rider races in a Saxo Bank jersey.
September 17, 2010
After just 20km into the Vuelta’s stage 19, Cancellara hops off his bike and heads home to Switzerland without an explanation; days pass before he answers phone calls from Saxo Bank team management.
September 20, 2010
According to unnamed sources, Cancellara agrees to a preliminary contract with the new Luxembourg team before leaving for the world road championships in Australia.
September 29, 2010
Mercedes-Benz Luxembourg announces its partnership with the new team to supply its fleet of cars, minibuses, trucks and buses.
October 14, 2010
Nygaard announces Andersen’s three assistant sport directors: Italian Luca Guercilena from Quick Step, Dane Lars Michaelsen and German Torsten Schmidt, both from Saxo Bank.
October 27, 2010
Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad estimates that the Luxembourg team is paying Riis Cycling 1.83 million euros (currently $2.5 million) to buy Cancellara out of his 2011 contract with Saxo Bank.
November 2, 2010
In its sporting assessment of the world’s top 40 professional teams, the UCI ranks the Luxembourg Project as No. 1, based on the performances of the best 15 riders signed by the team.
November 3, 2010
According to a “reliable source,” Luxembourg’s Le Quotidien newspaper names the Swiss energy drink Maca-Loca as a major sponsor of the new team.
November 11, 2010
Andy Schleck, speaking in an interview with L’Équipe, says: “You tell us that Fabian Cancellara naturally has a place [on the team] … but as of today he has yet to sign.”
November 13, 2010
According to its sources, Le Quotidien names Belgacom (Belgian telecommunications and mobile phone giant) and Jabra (Danish manufacturer of wireless headsets) as major team sponsors,
November 22, 2010
The day that the Luxembourg Project is confirmed as a UCI ProTeam with a four-year license, starting in 2011, Le Quotidien leaks the name of another probable main sponsor, Enovos, the expanding Luxembourg electric and gas utility.
Early December, 2010
Nygaard announces the full roster and all team sponsors for the Luxembourg Project.
January 16, 2011
The new team competes for the first time in the warm-up circuit race at the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia.

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