Hello and welcome to my first blog for Cyclingnews. I'm going to be writing a blog about once a month to share my thoughts and opinions from a team owner's perspective.
I always say that Twitter and other social media are just for fun, so I hope this blog will be fun and entertaining too. It will also be serious because I love professional cycling and I want to contribute to make it a bigger, better and richer sport for everyone.
I don't make investments lightly and always take a direct interest when I invest my own money, so in January I spent some time with my riders, staff and management at the Tinkoff-Saxo training camp on Gran Canaria. It was the last training camp of the winter for the riders and the first camp of the year for me. We had a lot of good meetings and I also worked on getting fit again after smashing my knee while skiing last year. I suffered at first but it was a good week of warm weather training and I even managed to do a six-hour ride and another with 2500m of climbing.
Unfortunately I had to go back to the office and go home to Moscow because my wife Rina was complaining that she'd become a cycling widow. To make up for it, I took her to the Dubai Tour. She's not a big cycling fan but knows it's important for me and seemed to enjoy being the First Lady of the Tinkoff-Saxo team.
I went to Dubai because I really wanted to see my team in action after buying it from Bjarne Riis. It was great to spend a day in the team car. Races are a mix of business and pleasure now.
I'm going to be at as many races as I can. My race programme is not as intense as the pro riders but it's pretty good and my wife has signed it off. It means my mobile data roaming charges will be high but I'll have a mobile office when I'm at races. I want to ensure the team performs at its very best and I also want to enjoy riding my bike.
I'm going to the Strade Bianche this weekend, the opening team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico and then Milan-San Remo. Unfortunately I'll have to miss the Belgian Classics because I'll be skiing in Kamchatka. But I hope to see a lot of the Giro d'Italia. I want to ride a big part of each stage and then watch the finishes. We've got Nicolas Roche and Rafal Majka as team leaders and I'm confident they can do well in the GC.
Alberto is also looking good. Did you see how he won the stage in Algarve? I was happy for him and for the team. It was the first win for Tinkoff-Saxo and showed that Alberto has been working hard this winter. Good. I'm sure he's going to have a great season. I can't wait to see him take on Froome at Tirreno-Adriatico.
More cake for everyone
I was impressed by what I saw at the Dubai Tour. Dubai is one of the financial capitals of the world and so it's good that they interested in cycling too. The Emirates has a lot of money and so it's right that there are a series of races in the Middle East.
Ok, racing in the Middle East might hurt the traditional early-season races in Europe but that's the price of progress. Living in the past is the easiest way to be left behind. We should learn from tradition but we really need to make cycling a 21st century sport.
It's also good to promote cycling in other Asian countries. Cycling has its roots in Europe, in countries like Belgium, France, Italy and Spain but it deserves to be fully globalised. It's becoming very popular in the UK, the USA and Australia, so why not in Asia and the rest of the world too?
There's a rumour that Alonso's team will be based in Dubai and that the sponsorship will come from the area. That's great. I'm not trying to monopolise the sport and it's great that more wealthy, more international people are getting involved with the management of the sport. Inside the sport we're all a bit surprised that Alonso still hasn’t announced his main sponsor. Hopefully he's got the cash in place, otherwise it'll be a disaster.
Alonso's presence in cycling will also help us shake up the way the sport is managed. I think some people misunderstood my ideas in my interview with Cyclingnews a few weeks ago. Yes, I want a different business model for the sport and the sharing of the TV rights with teams. But I don't really want to go to war with ASO. Yes, we're trying to get a piece of cake for the teams but we also want to make the cake bigger, for all the stakeholders. We should all have more cake. Who doesn’t like cake?
Everyone has to understand how professional cycling can be more commercialized and how this can boost the income for the teams, the race organisers and the riders, and also give the fans a better sport to enjoy.
Nobody has involved the fans in plans to change cycling but I'd be interested in what you think. Let me know via Twitter.
Because some rider's agents saw that I floated Tinkoff Credit Systems on the London Stock Exchange, they think I'm going to going to pay huge wages to the riders I want to sign for 2015. They think I'm stupid and that I'm going to throw my money around. Obviously they're the stupid ones because I'm not going to pay what they want.
I want to have some of the best riders in cycling in my team but I know how to negotiate a deal. Salaries will increase but that's the market. The supply is steady but the demand will increase in 2015 as teams try to sign the best riders. As a businessman, I can only accept the rules of the market and try to out play the market by offering a team that is attractive to the riders, is successful and does everything to help the riders perform at their very best. That's the secret of success in business and in cycling.