Oleg Tinkov is never one to mince his words, so it’s no surprise to hear him talking about his rivalry with Sir Dave Brailsford – the man he feels he is replacing as the “king” of cycling.
Speaking to the Telegraph’s Tom Cary at Tinkoff Saxo’s training camp in Gran Canaria, the Russian claims he is building a “superteam” which will surpass Team Sky in 2015, but with a smaller budget than Brailsford’s team.
“Obviously, he is afraid of us,” said Tinkov. “Because Dave was the king, he was alone, he dominated the scene.
“And then I came, and I invest some money, and not only money but invest some brain. And we start to catch up to them [Team Sky]. And I hope, in 2015, we overtake them.”
He added: “The best? What does it mean? Sky, for instance, has a bigger budget. Astana has a bigger budget. According to my information, anyway. They don’t really disclose. But ‘superteam’? I think it’s true. Because we are strong everywhere.”
In an attempt to better Team Sky next year, Tinkoff Saxo have hired two former Sky coaches in Bobby Julich and Sean Yates.
Yates told the Telegraph’s Cary that he turned down an offer to work as a directeur sportif for a WorldTour team in 2014, and claimed the only team he would have returned for was Tinkoff Saxo.
“It’s exciting. It feels like when I first joined Sky,” he said. “They have all these ideas and they feel as if they’re ahead of the opposition.
“Until you stepped out of Sky you didn’t realise how slow other teams were. Not that I’m a great thinker by any stretch of the imagination but you pay attention to what’s going on around you.
“My forte is being in the race car, and interpreting what’s happening in a race, what’s happened the day before and what might happen in the future.”