Oleg Tinkov, the man who laid the foundations for what is now the Katusha cycling team, is critical of the squad's Giro d'Italia performance. Having witnessed it first hand whilst visiting the race last week, the Russian businessman and former owner of the Tinkoff Credit Systems outfit wasn't impressed with the latest incarnation of the team he created two years ago.
"From what I've seen there's no team. They've five times more money, but not even the two wins we had last year," Tinkov told Cyclingnews on Saturday.
Tinkov transferred his former team – Tinkoff Credit Systems – to Russian Igor Makarov and became president last May. By September, Tinkov believed that he lacked complete control over the decision-making process and resigned.
The team raced as Team Katusha – with riders like Filippo Pozzato, Gert Steegmans and Robbie McEwen – starting in January. It has 15 wins to date, including Pozzato's win in E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and Serguei Ivanov's win in the Amstel Gold Race.
"I understand that the Giro is preparation for the Tour de France, but for me they didn't put in any big named riders in the Giro and it is a bit wrong towards [race director Angelo] Zomegnan."
Prior to the Giro d'Italia Katusha was rocked by the positive doping case of Austrian Christian Pfannberger. Its star rider, Pozzato, crashed after the first week and did not start stage 14.
"There were only six teams at the Giro who won stages this year," directeur sportif Serge Parsani told Cyclingnews on Sunday. "You need a little bit of luck; Tinkoff had men in two escapes last year that the group let go. Unfortunately, this year the escapes did not go.
"I would say overall the Giro was a disappointment for us. The positive thing is that Ben Swift, a young talent, participated in his first Grand Tour and he was up there in the sprints and had some decent results."
Tinkov's current focus is back home in Moscow. He runs a credit agency, Tinkoff Credit Systems, and a chain of 12 micro-brewery restaurants.
"It was a good decision to leave for me [cycling], it was too political and too much structure, that is not my way," said Tinkov. "I am an independent businessman."