By Gregor Brown
On November 16, Cyclingnewsreported that German paper Ostee Zeitung indicated that there was contact between ex-director sportif of Liberty Seguros-Würth, Manolo Saiz, and the emerging Professional Continental team Tinkoff Credit Systems.
Then on November 18, it was speculated in L'Equipe that owner Oleg Tinkoff made an offer to Francesco Mancebo. The French sports paper reported David Plaza, Mancebo's manager, as saying: "It's true that we have received a relatively attractive offer from Tinkoff."
Cyclingnews was contacted by Tinkoff, who helped clarify that talks with the Spaniards never took place. A Tinkoff spokesman said that "In regards to the news ... of the alleged negations between Tinkoff and Manolo Saiz and an offer [rumoured at €600,000] to Francesco Mancebo, the managers of the Russian-Italian formation deny to ever have had any contact with Saiz or his collaborators nor have had made an offer to the Spanish rider."
Both Saiz and Mancebo have been linked to Operación Puerto. After a decision by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) to close the disciplinary files in late October, Mancebo was free to return to racing and he is now searching for a new contract (his current contract with AG2R Prévoyance is due to be terminated). In the same announcement by RFEC that allowed Mancebo to return to racing, the RFEC made it clear that Saiz is still under investigation.