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Tinkov buys Saxo-Tinkoff team from Riis

Stephen Farrand
December 2, 2013, 15:09,
December 2, 2013, 16:33
First Edition Cycling News, Monday, December 2, 2013
Tinkoff team owner Oleg Tinkov at the race.

Tinkoff team owner Oleg Tinkov at the race.

  • Tinkoff team owner Oleg Tinkov at the race.
  • Oleg Tinkov and Tyler Hamilton
  • Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank manager Bjarne Riis ahead of stage 1 of the Eneco Tour.

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Riis will continue as manager

Oleg Tinkov has bought the Saxo-Tinkoff team from Bjarne Riis and will be the main sponsor for the squad for the next three years. The team will be known as Tinkoff-Saxo in 2014 with the Danish Saxo Bank accepting the role of second sponsor. 

The widely expected take over announcement was made during a live video streaming from Google’s London headquarters organised by the Global Cycling Network YouTube channel. Riis also attended the announcement along with Saxo Bank CEO Lars Seier Christensen, team leader Alberto Contador and Nicolas Roche.

It has been reported that Tinkov has paid Riis close to six million Euro to buy the team, with the former Danish rider set to earn a million Euro a season for the next three years in the role of team manager.

"I believe this is a great day for my team. It’s a day been dreaming for a long time, for many years. I’ve looked forward to today because it shows I’ve done some good, right things for this sport. I’m very happy to announce that Oleg Tinkov will be the new owner of the team. We’ve made agreement of him buying Riis Cycling from immediate effect,” Riis said.

“Riis Cycling will be renamed Tinkov Sport. He owns 100% of the team and he will be sole owner. It also means I’ll continue in a position as general for at least three years. Tinkoff Credit Systems will become the main sponsor and Saxo Bank has agreed to become second name sponsor for 2014. For 2014 the team will be called Tinkoff-Saxo.”

Tinkov, via his Tinkoff Credit Systems online bank, has been a co-sponsor for the Saxo Bank team since July 2012, but announced this summer that he would leave the team after Contador struggled to be competitive against Chris Froome. Tinkov openly criticised Contador and Riis via Twitter straining their relationship and began talks with other teams. However, he told Cyclingnews he wanted to own a team rather than play a passive sponsorship role and eventually returned to the table to thrash out a deal with Riis.

"I’m so happy," said Tinkov during the press conference.

"It’s my private investment, it’s my money. Cycling is my passion. Finally I have my WorldTour team. I also have Bjarne as best team manager and Alberto as best rider. I’m so happy today."

Tinkov then posed for a photo with Riis and Contador. When given the microphone, the Spaniard played down his so-far difficult relationship with Tinkov but kept his arms crossed and rarely smiled during the press conference.

“I think in these times, when there’s a dearth of new sponsors coming into the sport, it can only be a good thing when a man of the stature and wealth of Oleg Tinkov comes into the sport," Contador said in Spanish.

"I know many of you will be raising your eyebrows at our relationship after things that came out after the Tour de France but I can tell you that Oleg and I have spent a lot of time together and whatever happened immediately after the Tour is behind us.”

Questions about Riis' future in the sport

Riis’ long-term future in the sport is in doubt due to the on-going investigation by Anti-Doping Denmark. Riis is expected to be slammed in the final report after revelations from the likes of Michael Rasmussen and could be suspended or forced to leave the sport. 

Yet he denied the Danish investigation was the reason he has sold out to Tinkov, claiming the reasons for the sale were so that he could focus on the sporting aspects of the team instead of searching for sponsors and so that he could spend more time with his family.

"It (the outcome of the investigation) is pure speculation. We don’t like speculation, so as we said before, I just mentioned the two reasons. It is what it is," Riis said.

Tinkov explained that he will support Riis until there is a final verdict after the investigation.

“I don’t know what is going on. There are lots of investigations going on,” Tinkov said.

“I have to look at the governance. Were a serious company, so if there’s a decision (by Anti-Doping Denmark) we have to follow the decision. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s not my business. I hope that nothing happens and that we can stay together. If that thing happens it’s sad but anything can happen. I don’t have any problem.”

Tinkov said he believes cycling's doping problems are over.

“I strongly believe that doping is over. Journalists like to talk about it because it sells newspapers but there are no issues about that now. It’s over. Cycling has changed," he suggested.

"We’ll have a zero tollerance to doping. I think that nutrition, recovery, diet and discipline is what makes a difference today.”

Eric Blais 12 months ago
Dear Santa Could you bring me MovieStar team for Christmas, I have been a really good boy. Like always cookie and milk wil be waiting for you
FabiquesAnquetillara 12 months ago
MovieStar? It is some hollywood team? :)
Cance > TheRest 12 months ago
Does the team change nationality from danish to russian registration too then? Cannot support a russian team, if this is going to be the case
Steve Badger 12 months ago
Whys that then?
Nicolaj221 12 months ago
The next year the license will still be danish, but after that was not said.
Cance > TheRest 12 months ago
Okay, nice to hear, that afterall it's still a danish team next year. @Steve Badger, I have nothing against Katusha, but for the future I don't see Saxo Tinkoff as a team, who lets young danish talents have a shot at world tour level. If the team totally changed license nationality, who knows what would happen to even more of those danish talent riding at Saxo right now? Also, as a Dane, it's not the same if the team changes its nationality ... to russian.
SimonSays 12 months ago
Freudian slip?: "Saxo Tinkoff as a team, who lets young danish talents have a shot at world tour level"
Cance > TheRest 11 months ago
Maybe you should check out the squad of Saxo for the 2013 season, and you'll notice that 9 of 29 riders are danish. Some of them are proven riders at worldtour level, but guys like C. Juul Jensen, Jonas Aaen, Jesper hansen are riders who gets a chance to ride worldtour. Now that the team has changed its ownership from Bjarne to Tinkoff, it will change, so I expect to see much fewer danish riders in the future. It doesnt take a lot of brain capacity to see that Oleg Tinkov probably won't be so keen on having danish young talents at his team. Afterall he's russian, not danish.
SimonSays 12 months ago
Broth3r 12 months ago
Oh great, xenophobia again. But don't worry: at least they're not spanish, that means they don't dope, right? RIIIIGHT? Really. Some freakin' people...
Mestre 12 months ago
Streak, clenbuterol, Sainz, his capacity as a rider and all that other stuff apart, over the years I've grown to admire how Contador doesn't lose the plot under stress. His interviews, at least in Spain, after his illness showed him to be a brave boy, and heaven knows what he went through when Bruyneel and Armstrong his team. His suspension, and the recent business with Tinkov, yet I don't think I've ever heard him say a bad word about anyone nor throw a wobbler. Whatever else may be said about him, he's a tough lad.
bike_boy 12 months ago
true that!
mononck 12 months ago
"....yet I don't think I've ever heard him say a bad word about anyone nor throw a wobbler..." May I remind you of this: "If I get suspended for the Clenbuterol affair, I will stop riding for ever!" to me = bad word, wobble throw and blackmail. Not a nice man.
rastymick 11 months ago
I can't believe it - did he really say that? Blackmailing the entire world... what a terrible person, he should be put in jail for those nasty words he apparently said.
mononck 11 months ago
Is that your way of arguing a case, rasty? Turn it into derision when you are cornered and cannot say anything worth of reading. He did say those words. Not apparently. And you know it. You are simply out of argument. I pity you for being so blind...or stupid...or both.
wigvelo 12 months ago
And there are still people who say crime doesnt pay.......... Well Mr. 60% sure as hell blew that argument to bits
TheFred 12 months ago
You took the words right outta my mouth! That was my prevalent thought as I read these huge dollar amounts that Riis will get. I must admit, sometimes in movies, I want the bad guy to "get away with it". But this ain't a movie and I don't admire Riis.
Mark Schwitau 12 months ago
You must not admire anyone from that very long era. Tough to find a clean hero. From a sporting point of view, Riis is damn smart and a great race tactician. I enjoy his frankness .... Kinda reminds me of Belichek
TheFred 12 months ago
I don't care if he reminds you of M0ther Teresa. There are many who I admire from that era, none of which are leading teams.
TheFred 11 months ago
Mark, for clarity, I don't think that former dopers make the ideal team leaders, regardless of tactical acumen, their thoughts toward doping are skewed irreversibly. As the old guard is pushed out, fired, quits, retires, or busted, the new personnel at least have the hope of a new outlook and clarity of thought and behavior regarding dope.
FabiquesAnquetillara 12 months ago
I always liked SaxoBank team (mainly because of Cancellara when he was there) That is over now. When Riis decided to not have Tinkov as co sponsor,get Saxo to raise their sponsorsjip,I liked that team was going to be just SaxoBank again. Now it is completely other way round.. This is the worst scenario in my eyes.
The Chicken 12 months ago
"I strongly believe that doping is over" AAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.
dslacker 12 months ago
If Tinkov says things like that, it's unlikely he could pass a test for 'recreational drugs'. I'll have what the rich Russian is having, thanks.
Evan Shaw 12 months ago
Now the pressure is on Contador for sure. Of course his 20% improvement this upcoming year will be due only to weight loss, new training and nutrition incremental gains and listening to Oleg and Riis on a tape recorder in his sleep calling him to greatness.
Christopher Clarke 12 months ago
cyclical training... as he so eloquently put it last week.
arlobike 12 months ago
Riis's profile has faded in the last couple years and this seems like another step in that direction. Even if he has been the Dr. Evil of cycling, he sure has been an interesting character. As for Contador, has a top rider ever had such an unlucky series of team associations? He's had to live through Liberty-Seguros falling apart, Astana being taken over by Bruyneel and now Saxo being taken over by Tinkoff. He seems to have great racing instincts but bad team selection instincts.
arlobike 12 months ago
Correction, Bruyneel and Contador moved to Astana together but then Armstrong tried to take over before Vino took over. So much chaos around this guy.
Mark Schwitau 12 months ago
I don't know a lot about Tinkoff except what the screamers on this site say .... But at least the guy came in and kept another talented cycling team in the money. So good for that.
wrinklyvet 12 months ago
Spot on!
Alan D 11 months ago
Absolutely... these whiners would moan if you sat on their lunch!.. no thought for the fact that his immense business talent requires many attributes and two of them are self confidence and secure ego. He's effectively put 16million Euros into making sure we see the likes of Contador go head to head with Purito and Froomie and Evans etc... They don't seem to apperciate how important this is.. after-all, they wouldn't be able to spout forth about who's going to win what when on what tyres and PEDs... without Oleg and his hard-won millions. THey should be down on their ungrateful knees thanking him . ;-)))
srsplato 12 months ago
Riis is coming out of this smelling like a rose. If he gets sanctioned, it won't be a big deal like it was for all the others. He profited from this sale and will be able to live comfortably off of this sale. Unlike all the others that were caught doping, they will never find a decent job again. Doping is ruining so many riders lives. Do we really want our hero's of yesteryear to die off like this? I don't. Yes, they doped and should pay the price, but to live a life sentence is not fair either.