Oleg Tinkov apparently plans to become more involved in pro cycling again and is considering becoming the sole sponsor of the current Saxo-Tinkoff team. He denied a French media report that he would buy out the team from Bjarne Riis.
L'Equipe this morning reported that Tinkov would buy the team and its licence, but the Russian told sporten.dk, “No, why would I do that. It is cycling. There is no income. I'm a businessman. so I cannot see why I should do it.”
Sponsorship, however, was a different matter. “I am considering getting sole sponsorship of the team,” he said and confirmed that he was talking to Riis about it.
“There will be no definitive statements now. I have to wait until Paris. There will be two reports on the Champs Elysees. That [Alberto] Contador has won and who shall sponsor the team,” Tinkov predicted.
Tinkoff Bank became the name co-sponsor of the team last summer. Oleg Tinkov started his involvement in cycling with the Tinkoff Credit Systems team in 2007, before moving onto creating the Katusha squad in 2009. Tinkov left the team that year after a conflict with the other team head, Andre Tchmil.
Saxo Bank's sponsorship for the team expires the end of this year, but indicated that they are willing to renew their contract, while denying knowledge of Tinkov's plans. “It's news to us,” Saxo Bank spokesman Kasper Elbjørn told the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.
“But we can understand Tinkoff Bank speculating for a full sponsorship because just as they are, we are also pleased with our sponsorship. Therefore we have started negotiations to extend our sponsorship, but negotiations are still ongoing, and as long as they are, we will not comment on them.”