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Oleg Tinkov says his million-euro challenge may not happen in 2015

Russian entrepreneur hopes sport's biggest names may at least atempt Tour-Giro double...

Tinkoff-Saxo team owner Oleg Tinkov has said it is unlikely that his million-euro challenge to pit the world’s top stage racers against each other in cycling’s three Grand Tours will happen next year.

The Russian entrepreneur has said, however, that he hope that his team’s rider Alberto Contador, Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana of Movistar and Chris Froome from Team Sky may attempt the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France double.

No rider has achieved that since Marco Pantani in 1998, but Contador and Nibali – the only men currently riding to have won the Giro, Tour and Vuelta – have both said they may aim to win the Italian and French races next year.

Earlier this month, Tinkov said he would stump up a purse of €1 million if Contador, Froome, Nibali and Quintana rode all three races.

It was unclear whether the prize would be divided equally, or go to the rider with the best aggregate placing on general classification across the Grand Tours.

Now, he has told Sky Sports: “For me, the sooner it happens the better it is. For the next year it may be hard.

“I think it would be a huge victory if next year all four of them would start the Giro and Tour double.

“Alberto Contador has already confirmed, so why don’t Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali join him?

“WThat would be good. Let’s start with the double this year and see how it evolves.”

He went on: "It’s hard but they are getting a lot of money, those guys. They have a good salary and they have to work for that salary."

Tinkov acknowledges the extent of the challenge, but insists it would give the riders concerned a chance to justify their earnings.

“It’s hard but they are getting a lot of money, those guys. They get a big pay cheque. They are paid almost like good football players. They have a good salary and they have to work for that salary.”

The word ‘almost’ may be relative – the world’s top footballers will earn in a couple of months what the most highly paid cyclists may get in a year, and that’s before factoring in the greater pulling power they have for commercial endorsements.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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