Oleg Tinkov has labelled reports that he tried to sponsor Team Sky as "bullshit", telling Cyclingnews that he is "not planning to come back to cycling in any format". In a series of text messages he also said "I am enjoying my life building www.latdatcha.com", his luxury holiday home business.
News broke on Friday morning, with Spanish newspaper AS reporting that Tinkov had offered Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford in the region of 20 million Euros to sponsor the British WorldTour team.
"I have been talking sometimes with Dave over messages, since my departure," Tinkov said.
"I gave him my support during his 'tough times', he is an absolute star! I respect him a lot and still believe he was and is the best cycling manager, and [the] poor sport needs a few more Brailsfords.
"After three years of being absent, I don’t change my opinion on cycling, Contador or Riis etc, even though, it has been cemented. I wish all success to Dave to find a new sponsor, thus cycling needs him, he and Lefevere are good for this sport. I am not the one. That’s all for now."
Brailsford has overseen six Tour de France wins since the team's inception in 2010, with Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas all winning the French race. However, in December Sky announced it would be ending its sponsorship of the team at the end of 2019. That came despite the fact that Chris Froome had a contract beyond that point and Thomas had just re-signed after winning the Tour de France.
Brailsford is reportedly confident of finding a new sponsor but, according to AS, a partnership with Tinkov was not viable due to an "irreconcilable incompatibility on management and vision regarding business and sport".
Tinkov has had a somewhat colourful relationship with the sport of professional cycling. Never one to shy away from the media or hold back his personal opinions, he bought Bjarne Riis's WorldTour licence in 2013 and fired the Dane less than 12 months later. The Russian publicly criticised several of his high-profile riders, including Peter Sagan - who he wanted to see take a pay cut - and Alberto Contador, who he called a 'rip-off'. Tinkov's team folded at the end of 2016, just three years after he took over, as he failed to land a replacement sponsor and was unwilling to reinvest his own finances.
Cyclingnews contacted Team Sky, who declined to comment on the matter.