COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Former Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis and Lars Seier Christensen, co-owner of online forex brokerage Saxo Bank, have become part of the group of owners of the Danish third-tier cycling team Team Virtu Pro-Veloconcept.

The team will act as a development team to an outfit they hope will have the World Tour (elite) status in 2018, they said at a press meeting in Copenhagen on Thursday.

Michael Sand, one of the existing owners, will remain as co-owner of the team.

In July, Riis and Christensen announced that they would take over the sponsorship of Team Virtu Pro-Veloconcept.

Riis and Christensen's plans also include developing the women's cycling team, Team BMS Birn, which they hope can become the best in the world.

Riis, 52, won the Tour in 1996 and was feted as the greatest Danish cyclist of the modern era, but subsequently admitted to doping during his career, including in 1996.

Riis left his post as manager of Team Saxo-Tinkoff in March 2015 following the breakdown of his relationship with team owner Oleg Tinkov.

Christensen was one of two founders of Copenhagen-based Saxo Bank and acted as its chief executive until last year. The bank traded $10.5 billion worth of currencies daily in 2015.

(Reporting by Teis Jensen, editing by Julien Pretot)