Oleg Tinkov celebrated his first Giro d’Italia victory as a team owner by dying his hair pink. The extrovert Russian opened a magnum of prosecco while in the front seat of the Tinkoff-Saxo team car early in the stage as Contador and his teammates celebrated overall victory.
He also joined Alberto Contador and his Tinkoff-Saxo riders on the podium in Milan to celebrate. The Tinkoff-Saxo riders were apparently stung by criticism about their collective performance during the Giro and Tinkov vented his anger and celebrated with his riders by flipping the bird in front of the pack of photographers.
Tinkov had looked extremely worried during Saturday’s stage to Sestriere after Contador suffered and was dropped by Astana rivals Fabio Aru and Mikel Landa on the Colle delle Finestre. When Contador finally made it to the finish, Tinkov gave him a hug and then celebrated under the podium as his team leader pulled on the pink jersey.
“It’s my first Giro win and yes, I admit, I was worried until Alberto reached the finish,” Tinkov told Cyclingnews.
“I spoke to him afterwards and he reassured me that he was always in control but my heart had been beating fast. If Alberto was at 175 during the stage, I was at 170. It’s easy to say for him everything was okay because he’s won lots of Grand Tours, I haven’t, not yet at least.”
Tinkov was a guest on Italian television show with Contador. He was questioned about the strength of the Tinkoff-Saxo team but just like Contador did in his press conference, Tinkov defended his riders and is confident Tinkoff-Saxo will field a strong team when Contador targets the Tour de France in July.
“Alberto won the Giro so I think our team was strong. Some teams had six or seven guys up there sometimes but Alberto won the Giro. There’s not much else to say,” he argued.
“We’ll have good riders for the Tour de France. We’ll have the likes of Rafal Majka and others and the team will be stronger. I believe in my team and cannot accept criticism of my team. We did a lot of work during the Giro. Astana had lots of guys up there but what did they do? Even if there had been nine Astana riders and Alberto alone, he’d still have won.”
The Giro-Tour double and even the Vuelta triple
With victory in the Giro d’Italia assured, Tinkov, like Contador quickly turned his thoughts to the Tour de France.
“It’s a big ask for him now. As I said I came up with the idea of the three Grand Tour million dollar challenge, I believe the best riders should compete against the best in the Grand Tours. Of course Nibali, Froome and Quintana will be fresh for the Tour and Alberto will start after a tough Giro but if he wins, and I think he will win, he’ll confirm that he is the best Grand Tour rider of his generation,” Tinkov explained.
"Even if Alberto finishes second or third and Nibali, Froome or Quintana, who is the strongest Grand Tour rider? Of course it’s Alberto. No doubt…”
Tinkov went as far as to encourage Contador to also target the Vuelta a Espana and an historic triple in Grand Tours, if he wins at the Tour de France.
“It’s up to Alberto to decide about the Vuelta, he’s boss of team not me,” Tinkov said. “But if he wins the Tour after the Giro, then I think he should definitely go for Vuelta.”