Alberto Contador was the only rider who could have beaten Chris Froome, but 2016 was his final chance to win the Tour de France – that is the view of Oleg Tinkov, the owner of the Spaniard’s Tinkoff team.
Oleg says a lot of things, of course, but his views on the financial clout of Team Sky echo those of many other people.
Tinkov will leave cycling at the end of the season and writing in a blog on Cycling News, he explained there was “nothing much anyone can do to beat [Froome] and Team Sky,” and said this was why he was taking “a couple of years out from the sport.”
“To understand why Team Sky is currently unbeatable, just look at the money they have and how they use it wisely. They have an investment of around €10 million riding alongside Froome and helping him win the Tour de France. I have about €2 million to do the same role for Alberto. That’s a huge difference when it comes to building a team. Dave Brailsford can afford to buy anyone to make Team Sky stronger, and so make his rivals weaker.”
Speaking about Contador taking on Froome, Tinkov said he hoped the two would go head-to-head at the Vuelta, but said he felt as far as the Tour was concerned, the Spaniard had now missed his chance.
“I really admire Alberto but in my humble opinion he should stop his career this year because he’s at the top now and can’t get any better. I believe carrying on his career with Trek-Segafredo for another two years is a mistake. He can still win the Vuelta but I doubt he will ever win the Tour again. This year was his last chance.
“He’s obsessed about winning the Tour, so am I, but I’m able to judge things rationally and I know it’s the right time to stop. I believe it’s the Froome era now and for the next two or three years, and so there’s nothing much anyone can do to beat him and Team Sky. That’s why I’m taking a couple of years out of the sport.”
About returning to cycling, he said he said there was no point doing so until Froome was a little older and “some new guys come along” to challenge him.
“Time heals wounds and I’m sure I’ll come back to the sport sooner rather than later. Give me a couple of years. I’m really tired and need a break from it all. I want my July back, too. I haven’t had a July for the last four years. My dream is to go to Norway to see the Fjords; it’s something I’ve never done.”