Cannondale set to team up with Tinkoff in 2014

Cannondale and Tinkoff are set to join forces in 2014 as the Italian-managed team tries to build for the future and hold onto team leader Peter Sagan.

The Slovakian sprinter's contract ends in 2014 but the estimated seven million Euro sponsorship from Tinkoff would allow team manager Roberto Amadio to cover Sagan's probably four million Euro salary and so fight off any rival bids for the Tour de France points jersey winner.

Cannondale replaced Liquigas as title sponsor of the team in 2013 and now owns 90% of Brixia Sport, the management company that runs the team and has Sagan under contract. Despite Cannondale investing several million Euro each season, further sponsorship is needed if the team is to remain one of the best teams in the UCI WorldTour.

Oleg Tinkov confirmed his acrimonious split from Bjarne Riis' team and that he had found a new team via Twitter. He wrote: "I have now my team. I have good partners. We will announce soon. Show must go on! All the best to Saxo-Tinkoff riders!!!"

Last week Tinkov was in London to announce the stock market flotation of his Russian Credit Card company. He is the majority shareholder along with Goldman Sachs and hopes to raise $750 million from the flotation.

Cannondale team manager Roberto Amadio refused to confirm the news of the arrival of Tinkoff as a major sponsor but Cyclingnews has heard that Tinkoff is on board from several sources.

"We're still negotiating with probable sponsors but I can't say anything because they're not signed off yet. Tinkoff could be one of them. We'll see…." Amadio told Cyclingnews.

"We've submitted all the documents that were needed with the UCI and the Cannondale team will be in the peloton in 2014."

Convincing Sagan to stay

Despite Cannondale being a US-company and Oleg Tinkov using cycling to promote his Russian credit card company, the team will remain registered in Italy. Changing nationality could have sparked contract upheaval and given rival teams a chance to sign Sagan.

"Cannondale wanted the team to be registered in the USA but these are the rules that we had to follow. The first licence with the UCI was given in Italy so has to carry on. Next year is the last year."

Amadio is working hard to convince Sagan to stay with the team after 2014. He will have better support in the cobbled Classics and the team is likely to give up on any overall classifications ambitions at the Tour de France to help Sagan win stages and the green jersey.

"There are 18 WorldTour teams and I bet all of then would love to have Sagan in their line-up," Amadio said.

"It's normal that he'll be at the centre of the market for the 2015 season. We're not ruffled by all of that. We've worked well with him so far and we'll make our offer for the future. It'll be up to him to make a decision about his future. I don’t see why he can't carry on with us. He's developed with this team and we're strengthening the team for him. Of course there's also the economic aspect but I'm confident that he can stay with us."

Amadio confirmed that Ivan Basso will stay with the team in 2014, despite reports he may buy out his contract to support Vincenzo Nibali at Astana. Basso also confirmed to Cyclingnews that he will stay with the team, alongside Classics rider Moreno Moser and sprinter Elia Viviani.

The team has signed four neo-pro riders for 2014, including Under 23 road race world champion Matej Mohoric.

"Ivan's got a contract and we've talked recently. He wants to stay with us. If there are some changes and interest from other teams that he wants to look at then we can talk again. But for now he's part of the Cannondale team," Amadio said.

"We're still talking to a couple of other riders. I'm convinced we'll have a strong team. It'll be built around Sagan but Basso, Moreno Moser and Elia Viviani will have their chances in the races that suit them.

"We've signed four young riders who are talented: good Italian riders Alberto Bettiol, Davide Villella, Davide Formolo and new Under 23 world road race champion Matej Mohoric of Slovenia. We've got a tradition of developing good young riders: Nibali, Sagan, Kreuziger have all come up through our team in the last nine years."

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