We take a look at Tinkoff's best racing moments of the last four years
We bid a fond farewell to the Tinkoff team at the end of the 2016 season, so it’s only right that we give them a good send off by looking back at some of their best racing moments.
Oleg Tinkov‘s team have provided some memorable results in recent years, especially since signing Peter Sagan ahead of the 2015 season, although the success wasn’t enough to keep old Oleg in the sport.
Take a look at our favourite moments and let us know if there’s any we have missed.
10. Roman Kreuziger wins Amstel Gold Race
It was a relatively tough first few years for the Saxo-Tinkoff team, which was in a bit of a rebuilding process after losing many of its key riders to the newly formed Leopard Trek team for 2011.
Tinkoff’s sponsorship came on board halfway through the 2012 season and immediately seeing Alberto Contador win the 2012 Vuelta a España.
Roman Kreuziger made up for a slow start to the 2013 season by taking a dominant win in the Amstel Gold Race, galloping up the Cauberg with a healthy lead to beat the peloton by 22 seconds.
9. Peter Sagan wins 2015 Tour of California
While not being the biggest race in the world, Peter Sagan really sent out a statement with his Tour of California win in 2015.
The big money signing from Cannondale endured a tough Classics campaign, with Tinkov even threatening to cut his salary because of a lack of results. But Sagan went to California, where he had previously enjoyed prolific success as a stage winner, and took home the general classification.
It was one of the year’s most exciting races, with Sagan and Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) battling it out on parcours that wasn’t entirely suited to them.
Sagan took the win on the stage six time trial to the surprise of many before Alaphilippe wrestled the yellow jersey off him by winning the long climb to Mt Baldy – where Sags finished a respectable sixth.
Then, Sagan finished third to pick up enough bonus seconds to jump ahead of the Frenchman once again and take the overall race by one second.
8. Rafal Majka’s two stage wins and polka dot jersey at 2014 Tour de France
Contador has won three Grand Tours in Tinkoff colours but the team have had a tough time at the Tour de France. The Spaniard has finished fourth and fifth in the general classification as well as abandoning twice in his four attempts since 2013.
Rafal Majka has been a bit of a saviour in many respects, giving the team something to cheer about in the Tour when their general classification bid fell by the wayside.
In 2014 Majka won two mountain-top finishes in the space of four stages and claimed third on the Hautacam to seal the polka dot jersey and an appearance on the podium in Paris.
7. Peter Sagan wearing yellow at 2016 Tour de France
The world championship win gave Peter Sagan a new lease of life, especially when it came to the Tour de France.
Sagan became frustrated with his relentless second-place finishes, of which he amassed five at the Tour in 2015, but in the rainbow stripes he finally managed the win that had eluded him since 2013.
On stage one of the Tour to Utah Beach Mark Cavendish took his first ever yellow jersey and the following day Sagan followed suit by winning in Cherbourg to trade his stripes for the Tour leader’s jersey.
He wore it for three stages and went on to win two more stages en route to his fifth Tour de France points classification in a row.
6. Alberto Contador wins 2012 Vuelta a España
Contador returned from his doping ban and hit the ground running by winning the second of his three Vuelta a España titles.
It was a pretty dominant display by the Spaniard, who was joined by countrymen Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde on the podium, with Contador winning one stage and finishing in the top five on seven other occasions.
The three Spaniards finished over eight minutes ahead of Chris Froome in fourth place, but Contador did enough to finish 1-16 ahead of Valverde by the finish line in Madrid.
5. Rafal Majka’s podium finish at 2015 Vuelta a España
With Contador attempting his Giro d’Italia/Tour de France double in 2015 it gave an opportunity for another Tinkoff rider to step up into a leadership role.
Whether Majka had intended to ride for the classification at the start of the race, or just go for stage wins, is beside the point – the Pole managed to podium in one of the most exciting Grand Tours for years.
Like the Tours de France up to that point, Tinkoff were dealt a blow early on, when Sagan was forced to abandon the race on stage nine, placing all the pressure squarely on Majka’s shoulders.
But he wasn’t fazed and rode incredibly to work his way up the general classification and maintain a podium finish in a hectic final week.
He moved up to third on stage 15 when he finished second to Rodriguez on the long climb up to Sotres Cabrales and then benefited from Tom Dumoulin‘s capitulation on the penultimate stage to guarantee his podium place.
4. Peter Sagan wins 2015 and 2016 Tour de France green jerseys
Sagan came to Tinkoff off the back of three consecutive green jerseys at the Tour de France and a new kit did nothing to halt his charge in that competition.
The Slovak seems unstoppable, especially given his ability to win points on any given stage, not just the flat ones like the other sprinters.
You’ll often see Sagan out in a breakaway on a mountain stage to hoover up the sprint points while Mark Cavendish and co sit in the grupetto at the back of the peloton.
He also is always in the right position to contest the intermediate sprints on the flat stages when many of his rivals are saving themselves for the finish.
It’s a remarkable run of success and one that doesn’t look to be coming to an end any time soon, unless the ASO change the rules.
3. Alberto Contador wins 2014 Vuelta a España
The 2014 Vuelta was the battle between two big name riders who abandoned the Tour de France earlier in the summer.
The Spaniard beat Froome on the long time trial on stage 10 to take the race lead and never let it go, winning two stages in the final week to seal the win by 1-10. On both stage wins he beat Froome on a summit finish.
2. Alberto Contador wins 2015 Giro d’Italia
The 2015 Giro d’Italia could go down as Contador’s last Grand Tour win, but it could also go down as one of his best.
He wasn’t particularly flamboyant in his win, unlike some of his previous big victories, but he gritted his teeth through a suspected separated shoulder for much of the first half of the race and still wore the pink jersey for most of it.
Eight top-10 finishes over the course of the 21 stages proved that the injury didn’t hamper his riding all that much, with two sixth-place finishes on the penultimate mountain stages sealing him the win over Fabio Aru by 1-53.
1. Peter Sagan wins 2016 Tour of Flanders
While Sagan’s World Championships win came out of team colours, the team’s biggest win came with Sagan in the rainbow stripes as he stormed to victory in the Tour of Flanders.
The nearly man became the star man on the cobbles and hills of Flanders to take his and Tinkoff’s first Monument win, breaking away in the final 20 kilometres and soloing to victory.
Don’t take my word for it being a great win, watch the video and see for yourself.