In some of the most explosive comments made about the Tour de France in general, and the costs of racing specifically, Tinkoff/Saxo team owner & sponsor Oleg Tinkov (who plans to leave the sport at the end of the 2016 seson) appeared on the NBCSN post-race show today and offered the following in regards to the financial toll of backing a “super team”.
“I don’t sleep very well, but it is because I am paying $20 million a year (to sponsor the team). Tinkoff bank is the biggest in the world, but still we don’t make enough money to sustain the team so of course I have to leave. Is this a U.S. TV show? Hello U.S. you have to come in and take care of the sport because these Europeans are worthless!”
THE RUSSIAN IMPACT
Oleg also intoned on how his decision to leave the sport, and his being of Russian descent, bore down on him personally. “I have difficult sort of feelings in my soul. If you read (Russian novelist) Dostoyevsky you would know how “we are always trying to dig inside our own soul. We fight inside ourselves. We are not as refined as Anglo-Saxons.”
Most curious was hearing Oleg almost joke that if Peter Sagan were to win two additional stage in this year’s Tour de France he might re-consider his decision to quit the sport (“Let’s see (if he wins), then I will decide.”) something that might cause some consternation among the 27 riders who are no doubt curious about their future employment .
As for the UCI’s role in governing the sport of cycling and the idea of revenue sharing (ala the NFL and NBA), Tinkov added that, “In the perfect world I don’t see the UCI at all in this game. It’s not a sustainable model when cycling is watched by millions of people. It could be a very good business. It’s not a business, it’s just a nightmare. American money needs to be involved here. Europeans don’t understand how to do the business – they do it like their moms and dads used to do it!”