Two Argos-Shimano riders have hit out at comments made by Saxo-Tinkoff financier Oleg Tinkov regarding why his team should be the beneficiaries of the final ProTeam licence from the UCI, as opposed to the Dutch outfit.
"Alberto Contador is a superstar, the best racer in the world, and I can't even remember the names of whoever Argos-Shimano have in their squad," Tinkov said in a press conference with the Spaniard in Moscow on Monday, according to RIA Novosti.
"It's absolutely, obviously, a crazy situation. Personally, it's difficult for me to imagine a situation where we don't receive a licence."
Marcel Kittel, who has been outspoken in regards to anti-doping, reacted to Tinkov's comments via his Twitter feed, saying: "Olé Oleg! Nice interview. You're right: why should cycling need credibility and rules?!" The German sprinter followed that up with emoticons of 'hear no evil; see no evil; speak no evil'.
Kittel's teammate, Simon Geschke followed that up with "Well, i don't know Oleg Tinkoff either, seems to be no superstar..."
Both Argos-Shimano and Saxo-Tinkoff fell outside the automatic top-15 teams for qualification late last month. The team run by Bjarne Riis found itself outside the threshold due to the ineligibility of Alberto Contador's points while Argos-Shimano looks to guarantee a place in the grand tours by moving up from its current Professional Continental status.
The UCI has stated that riders returning from doping violation will not contribute to their respective team's points tally for two years. This has meant Saxo-Tinkoff drops significantly down the standings due to Contador accumulating the majority of the WorldTour results.
The complex points system used by the UCI to rank the teams is not fully understood however, the UCI has remained firm in its stance towards Riis' team and the application of its rules. Riis attempted to refute the decision by first discussing it with the UCI and followed up by stating he would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
A decision is expected by the UCI by mid-December.