Russian entrepreneur Oleg Tinfov has thrown down a million-euro challenge to four of the world’s top Grand Tour riders in an attempt to get them to go head to head in the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana next season.
The owner of the Tinkoff-Saxo team threw down the gauntlet to his own outfit’s star rider Alberto Contador, as well as Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali, Sky’s Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana of Movistar, in an interview published in Italian daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Between them, the quartet have won six of the past seven editions of those races – the exception being Chris Horner’s Vuelta victory last year.
The Italian newspaper says that the €1million prize could either be divided equally between the four should they participate in all of the three-week races, or it could go to the rider who placed best across the trio of Grand Tours.
Contador and Nibali have already said that they are attracted by the idea of going for the Giro-Tour double next season – not achieved since Marco Pantani won both races in 1998 – and with a long time trial in the Italian race next May, it could also appeal to Froome.
Tinkov, who made his fortune in financial services with his Tinkoff Credit Systems business, took to Twitter – where admittedly he has a bit of a reputation as a wind-up merchant – to call on Contador’s rivals to take part.
The idea was embraced by Garmin-Sharp boss Jonathan Vaughters, who replied to Tinkov on Twitter.
Here's our favourite response:
Few riders – let alone overall contenders – attempt all three Grand Tours in a season.
The most notable exception currently is Lotto-Belisol’s Australian rider, Adam Hansen, who last month completed his ninth Grand Tour in a row at the Vuelta.
When he won the Tour de France in July, Nibali joined Contador as the only two current riders to have won all three Grand Tours, a feat only four other men have achieved.
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