After Saxo Bank exit, Tinkov says he will set up a new major project with five year commitment
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

After Saxo Bank exit, Tinkov says he will set up a new major project with five year commitment

by VeloNation Press at 9:45 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Riis says differences hampered collaboration, says Tinkov’s tweets were also an issue

Saxo TinkoffSpeaking after Bjarne Riis today announced that Team Saxo Bank had decided to end negotiations with Oleg Tinkov about his backing of the squad, the Russian businessman has given his reasons for walking away and also indicated he will set up a team of his own.

“From 2014 Tinkoff Credit Systems bank will stop sponsoring Riis Cycling,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “We have decided it for two reasons: Poor sporting merits in 2013 season [and] our own cycling project.

“From January 2014, we will start to build our own cycling team "Tinkoff Credit Systems". This will be BIG project with 5 years commitment.”

Tinkov previously had a continental team Tinkoff Restaurants in 2006, which then evolved into the pro continental Tinkoff Credit Systems squad. This existed between 2007 and 2008 and rode the Giro d’Italia in its second year. Pavel Brutt and Vasil Kiryienka won stages there. Tyler Hamilton also rode on the team and said last year that he was told doping was allowed; Tinkov denied this as being the case.

In July 2008 Tinkov announced that the team would become the much bigger Katusha setup the following season. However he was ousted amid bitter circumstances and others took over the running of the squad.

His backing of Riis’ team this season marked his return to top level cycling, and enabled the Dane to make a number of big name signings in support of team leader Alberto Contador.

Prior to the Tour there was speculation that Tinkov could take over the title sponsorship of the Saxo Tinkoff team next season, with his company upping its commitment to become the first-named sponsor. He appeared to fuel this talk via his Twitter account, but later in the Tour he expressed frustration that Chris Froome was dominating the race and said – apparently tongue in cheek – that he wanted to buy the Briton.

Tinkoff expressed growing doubt about backing the team in 2014, suggesting that Alberto Contador was overpaid and not working hard enough, and that he was only interested in being involved with the project if the team could win the race.

Earlier today, Riis made clear that there were real differences. “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,” he said.

“Most importantly, we disagree on how the team should be run.”

Tinkov echoes that in his own statement. “I respect Bjarne Riis as a sport manager, I still disagree with him as a team manager. I wish the best to Bjarne and Riis cycling to find a new sponsor, even in today's challenging economics. And hope we could cooperate in some point of time.”

Riis spoke more about the issue to TV2.dk. “For a while, we have had negotiations, as late as Monday,” he said. “We agreed that we should think about the various things. I've been thinking, and I have come to the conclusion that I'd like to stop the negotiations.

“We have different views on how to run the team. I have some things I'd like to do, and he wants something else. I will not go into detail about it.”

Twitter account also contributed to differences:

Tinkov’s Twitter account gathered a lot of attention during the Tour, and not only because of his tweets about the team. The Russian got into abrasive exchanges with several people, using sexist, misogynistic and homophobic language, and also said that he considered that the team’s leader Alberto Contador was overpaid and undertrained.

The Tweets arguably affected the image of the team, and are something that Riis accepted was part of the unravelling partnership.

“No one is surprised that we have different positions. He is allowed to do it. It doesn't matter what I think,” he said. “We have different personalities. We do not have the same understanding of how a team should be run. Of course, the tweets meant something, but it is not the main reason.”

He said that with Tinkov moving elsewhere, that his focus is now on finding a replacement backer. Tinkov suggested in recent days that the gap in budget is six million euro.

Riis’ task is made more difficult by the fact that it is late in the season, but he believes that the squad should be an attractive prospect for companies.

“It will be hard work, but we believe that we have a good product. Although Alberto did not race at his best, we still think that he is one of the few who can challenge Froome.”

Contador was sitting in second place overall until the final mountain stage, where he cracked and slipped to fourth. He has appeared below his 2009 level since returning from his suspension for Clenbuterol use, although he did win the Vuelta a España last September.

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