After reports late last month that that Oleg Tinkov is set to up his stake with Bjarne Riis' Saxo-Tinkoff team, a new interview suggests that the Russian banking mogul will have greater influence on the squad.
"My ambition in cycling much more than to be the second sponsor," Tinkov told Eurosport, according to sports.ru. "In fact, we agreed that next year our team will be called Tinkoff Bank-Saxo Bank. We will be the first sponsor, Saxo Bank - the second. We still need to settle some details but I hope it happens."
Tinkov also said there will be between three and five Russians on the roster, including Ivan Rovny, who is currently signed for UCI Continental outfit Ceramica Flaminia-Fondriest. The 25-year-old has also had stints with RusVelo, RadioShack and Katusha. Tinkov also indicated that any riders whose contracts are due to expire will have the option of staying on another season.
"I have a great relationship with Riis, but sometimes you have to argue with him, to prove something," Tinkov said. "When I'm the title sponsor, my impact on the team in terms of a squad of riders will increase significantly. Starting next year, my influence will be greater."
In June Tinkov denied a L'Equipe report that suggested that he would take over the license held by Riis but did admit he was negotiating the terms of an increased sponsorship arrangement.
"There will be no definitive statements now," he later told sportken.dk. "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.
Saxo Bank's contract with the team is due to end at the conclusion of the season.