As the owner of the Tinkoff Team, this year is of major emotional importance to me. This is my last year and the Tour de France has so far escaped me – the yellow jersey at the Tour would be the jewel in the crown.
I expect my team to fight as fierce as lions and get a yellow jersey for Contador and a green jersey for Sagan. I know that this is a little controversial – in the cycling world they normally have one goal – but here we have two: GC and sprints. But I love controversy and I believe that to have one goal is an anachronism. Our team is completely capable of fulfilling two goals, especially bearing in the mind that we have two mega-talented stars. Contador and Sagan are Number One and Number Two cyclists in the world today, occupying first and second places in the rankings.
This Tour's route (and general profile) fits Sagan perfectly. So I fully expect Peter to win at least a few stages. After this mission is complete, he can go to Rio to win the MTB race in the Olympics.
As I've said previously, I believe that Alberto is the ONLY rider who can beat Froome. However, similar to the situation one year ago, I believe that this year Alberto is not operating on a level playing field. Last year, Alberto rode in the Giro and therefore came to the Tour less fresh than the well-rested Froome. This year, Sky (with its super budget) has been splashing out on new, talented riders and this means that they have a very strong team overall. This will give them some edge. But we will kick their ass anyway.
There is also a tricky pair – [Fabio] Aru and [Vincenzo] Nibali – from Astana. This duo is serious opposition not to be treated lightly. And not to forget another pair from BMC – Richie Porte and Tejay Van Garderen. Finally, Movistar's Quintana, with Valverde, is dangerous. We expect these three teams to collaborate with Tinkoff against super Team Sky. Although, at the end of the day, I am convinced that the Tour will be won by Froome or Contador. My money is obviously on the latter!
As is now a tradition, I intend to enjoy the Tour de France myself – I plan to ride each day with the team for all three weeks. Despite having a broken foot, I hope that I will be able to do this (I have been out of action for eight weeks). If my broken foot doesn't get in the way, then the Gendarmes probably will. I hope they are reading this so that they give me a free ride – unlike my last time in the Tour de France. Dear Gendarmes, please have mercy on me (although I expect you can't read English so this plea is probably wasted on you).
Finally, I want to say a word about the recent compromise between ASO and UCI. 'Compromise' is the right word here because it is the worst of all worlds and a sub-optimal outcome. I firmly believe that ASO should buy RCS and create a private cycling league, sell expensive TV rights and share this revenue with the cycling teams. This is the only future for professional cycling sport.
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Oleg Tinkov created his business empire by selling jeans he bought at a training camp as a junior. He now owns the Tinkoff-Saxo team and is never afraid to speak his mind, be it about team leader Alberto Contador, Tour de France rivals Team Sky and especially about how professional cycling is managed.