In a recent interview with ITV at the Tour de France, Oleg Tinkov has said his star rider Peter Sagan has already signed with Bora-Argon 18 for next season. The owner of Tinkoff is expected to shut down his WorldTour team at the end of the season.
"I believe he [Sagan] is the best cyclist now in the peloton … It makes my decision [to close the team] even harder, but I think Peter is good," Tinkov said.
"I understand he signed with Bora [Bora-Argon 18] … I will gladly follow Peter on TV, or over the net, and if I come some time to the race when Peter comes out of the Bora bus, he will not hesitate to take a photo with me."
Tinkov also noted that he believes Sagan will earn a higher salary than the reported €5 million a year he earns at Tinkoff.
"According to my information Bora paid him even more … I mean that's the market. I know for definite he got more. I'm not going to disclose the number, I know even the number. But he signed for much more money than I paid him. That's a fact."
In the past, Tinkov has been critical of Sagan, with regard to his performances compared to the high salary he earns. Last year, he even looked into reducing Sagan's salary because of a poor spring campaign. Sagan later went on to win the overall title at the Tour of California, stage at the Tour de Suisse, the green jersey at the Tour de France, a stage at the Vuelta a Espana and the world title.
"After my criticism last year, he started winning straight away," Tinkov said in the interview. "He won TOC and then he was very good at the Tour in green. He won some other races and then he became the world champion. Then there’s no problem. It’s as simple as that.
"We’re in an expensive business. You write a check for €5 million and you have a contract or three years and then you realise he’s not won… what can do you because you still have to pay the contract. You don't have any other tools other than to voice your opinion and criticise him. I think that I deserve that with how much money I’m paying him. I still think that his results after are based off my criticism. After I criticized him, he immediately won TOC and since then we’ve not had any issues."