Riis under pressure again as sponsorship negotiations unravel with Tinkoff Bank
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Riis under pressure again as sponsorship negotiations unravel with Tinkoff Bank

by Shane Stokes at 4:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
“We disagree on how the team should be run…I have decided to explore other possibilities”

Team Saxo TinkoffYesterday’s admission by the press officer of the Saxo Bank company that negotations with Oleg Tinkov were proving ‘difficult’ for Bjarne Riis’ team have been followed by the announcement today that those discussions have ended without any agreement being made.

Riis Cycling has today confirmed that Tinkoff Bank will no longer be a backer of the squad, with the relationship started for the 2013 season now running out of steam.

“During the course of our extensive negotiations with Tinkoff Bank it has become clear that we are unable to settle on common views and the ideas that are necessary for our partnership to grow and be successful for both parties beyond 2013,” stated team owner Bjarne Riis in a statement.

“Most importantly, we disagree on how the team should be run. For all of these reasons, I have decided to explore other possibilities and end the negotiations with Tinkoff Bank.”

Prior to the start of this year’s Tour there were indications that Tinkov may wish to take over the number one sponsorship of the team. That would have involved him increasing his financial stake to exceed that of Saxo Bank.

However as the race progressed, and as his Twitter interactions with fans became more eccentric and, at times, abusive, he also expressed disillusionment with the form of Alberto Contador and his inability to take yellow from Chris Froome.

Tinkov began showing a ‘win at all costs’ mentality, suggesting that if the team couldn’t be number one, that he was no longer interested.

Several people pointed out that in a sport like cycling, such a mentality was a dangerous one, given its history.

In today’s statement, Riis thanked Tinkov and his bank for working with the team, and said that they would continue to work together until the end of the season.

In addition, he said that Riis Cycling would immediately begin searching for new partners to replace Tinkoff Bank. He echoed yesterday’s confirmation that Saxo Bank was in place for 2014.

“We already have a strong portfolio of partners onboard, and our key partner Saxo Bank have told us that they are ready to continue their sponsorship in 2014 and are willing to help us find a solution that benefit all parties involved,” said Riis. “So I'm confident we will be able to continue to field a strong and competitive team in the years to come.”

The team made a number of high profile signings last year, including Roman Kreuziger, Nicolas Roche and Michael Rogers. These increased the salary demands on the team budget and Riis will want to ensure that a replacement is found to cover the shortfall created by Tinkoff Bank’s departure.

The team’s leader Alberto Contador finished fourth in this year’s Tour, weakening considerably in the final week and slipping back from second overall. This prompted Tinkov to tweet that the Spaniard hadn't worked hard enough and was overpaid.

The riders took the best team award in Paris.


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