Tinkov breaks with Team Katusha

Stefano Feltrin, Andre Tchmil and Oleg Tinkov (l-r) at the Katusha team launch

Stefano Feltrin, Andre Tchmil and Oleg Tinkov (l-r) at the Katusha team launch (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

By Gregor Brown

Oleg Tinkov is leaving cycling and the team he funded for the last two years – Tinkoff Credit Systems. The Russian businessman confirmed he will not be continuing in 2009 with Team Katusha.

"I tried to make it work with Andrei Tchmil. I am a president and he has not had any title, but just has been a representative figure, so it was a complicated a situation. For me cycling is, was and always will be a passion, an emotion. ... For Andrea Tchmil cycling is a business, and I am sure he would like to make some money on this deal. We just didn't get along," said Tinkov to Cyclingnews.

Tinkov transferred the team's structure to Russian Igor Makarov and became president in May. During the July presentation, Makarov brought on old friend and former professional Tchmil. Tinkov believed it was a parallel role. By September Tinkov saw that he could not have complete control over the decision-making process and stepped down.

"My dream was, is and will be to have a Russian national [team] win the Tour de France once, to be on the Champs-Élysées with the Russian flag waving. I still have this dream and maybe I will come back."

Tinkov, 40, will consider returning within the next 10 years. His main focus is on his Russian credit card bank, Tinkoff Credit Systems, and his chain of 12 micro-brewery restaurants.

Team Katusha – with new riders Filippo Pozzato, Gert Steegmans, Robbie McEwen and others – looks forward to competing in the sport's biggest races. Thanks to its ProTour license, it will have the ability to compete in the Grand Tours, including the Tour de France.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for a full interview with Tinkov in the coming weeks.

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