Oleg Tinkov reportedly approached Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford to discuss sponsoring the UCI WorldTour outfit after broadcaster Sky’s backing of it finishes at the end of this season – although the Russian billionaire is said to have dismissed the claim as “bullshit.”
According to Spanish sports daily AS, Tinkov phoned Brailsford shortly after news broke in December that Sky was ending its sponsorship, with the Team Sky principal saying he hoped to find a new backer to enable the team to continue in 2020 and beyond.
AS cited sources who told it that the Russian entrepreneur, who made his $2 billion-plus fortune in financial services, proposed an annual budget of €20 million – a big drop from Team Sky’s current budget of more than €30 million which makes it the richest team in the sport – but with certain conditions attached, given that he would be financing the project.
Brailsford is reported to have thanked Tinkov before rejecting the offer, according to the same sources, with AS reporting that he did so due to “an irreconcilable incompatibility on management and vision regarding business and sport.”
Tinkov, for his part, is reported by Cycling News to have described the AS report as “bullshit.”
A colourful and highly opinionated figure, he left the sport in 2016, two years after buying the licence of the former Saxo-Tinkoff team from Bjarne Riis, which his business had co-sponsored since 2012.
Previously, he sponsored the Italy-registered UCI Professional Continental team, Tinkoff Credit Systems, in 2007 and 2008.
As for potential future sponsors of the British UCI WorldTour outfit, AS suggests that a new backer may emerge from China, pointing out that former Team Sky coach and British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton is now in charge of the Chinese national team – and has reportedly enquired in Spain about the availability of industrial units in Girona, where many English-speaking professionals are based, as well as team buses.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.