Tinkov challenge ‘very serious’

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Published: Monday 13th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Oleg Tinkov’s challenge for the four best riders to contest all three Grand Tours in 2015 for one million euros is not a “joke or a publicity stunt”.

The eccentric Russian would like to see Alberto Contador, who rides for his Tinkoff-Saxo squad, Team Sky’s Chris Froome, Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana of Movistar race in the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana in the same year.

The one million euros purse could be divided equally, or be awarded as a prize to the rider who places best at the Tours of Italy, France and Spain.

Stefano Feltrin, chief executive of Tinkov’s Tinkoff-Saxo team, believes other sponsors would be prepared to match the funds if the challenge takes place.

“This isn’t a joke or a publicity stunt,” Feltrin said in a Tinkoff-Saxo team media release on Monday.

“We are very serious about it and we feel it is a proposal that will help cycling move forward.

“The fact our team owner Oleg Tinkov is putting on the table an important financial incentive is further proof of our intentions.

“The offer of Euros 1 million by Tinkoff Credit Systems could also be matched by other sponsors.”

Contador has stated his intention to seek a Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double in 2015 and Nibali, the reigning Tour champion, has, too.

Marco Pantani was the last person to achieve the feat, in 1998.

Discussions over the challenge began at the Vuelta, which finished last month, Feltrin says, and Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford last week said the idea had merit.

Feltrin added: “We invite them (Tinkov’s rivals) to make this (happen) in the interest of evolving cycling.”

The routes for the 2015 Tour, which begins in Utrecht on July 4, and the 2015 Vuelta are still to be announced, but Tinkoff-Saxo team manager Bjarne Riis believes Contador is capable of podium places in all three Grand Tours in the same calendar year.

“I believe Alberto Contador can aim at the podium in all three Grand Tours in one season and I think he has the capacity to do it,” Riis added.

“Nevertheless, I think that extraordinary physical capacity alone will not be enough.

“It is a very important factor but a rider needs three more crucial elements: the ability to recover between races, the mental strength and a perfect preparation and planning of the season.”

Published: Monday 13th October 2014 by The News Editor

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