Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali gives his response to Oleg Tinkov's offer of €1m to try and get the top riders to take part in all three Grand Tours
Oleg Tinkov’s €1m Grand Tour challenge has gained attention and drawn responses from the top riders and teams regarding the feat of riding all of the three-week stage races in 2015.
The Russian businessman and owner of team Tinkoff-Saxo with Alberto Contador said at the Giro d’Italia presentation on Monday that he would give cycling’s top four Grand Tour riders – Chris Froome (Sky), Nibali (Astana), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Contador – if they race all three Grand Tours in 2015: the Tour, the Giro and Vuelta a Espana.
They could fight for the prize, the best rider of the three races taking €1m, or they could the four can divide the money to €250,000 each.
Tinkov responded to Nibali and said that he will do both, support an under-23 team with Tinkoff-Saxo and continue to offer the €1m challenge in 2015.
“I’ll try to clear my #3GTchallenge idea,” Tinkov wrote in Facebook. “It is not about being the Tsar of cycling! It is about the sport we all love. It is not normal when 4/5 best riders are consistently trying to avoid each other in the major races, and win without hard competition.
“If we would like to create bigger interest to cycling, higher TV audience and income, there is no other way but the best compete in the same races. Thus it is difficult to have fitness in all three Grand Tours such as Giro, Tour de France and La Vuelta, I propose that at least four of the best are committed to do ALL three!”
Contador already committed to the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 2015. Since his boss is offering the challenge, he would likely return to the Vuelta a España to defend his title if the other three riders agree to all three races.
Colombian Quintana said last month that he wants to focus on the Tour and skip his title defence at the Giro. Team Movistar Manager Eusebio Unzué explained, however, that they will consider Tinkov’s proposal.
“I think it’s great,” Unzué told Spain’s Bici Ciclismo website. “But you have to study whether the sporting challenge has enough appeal. In any case, we will take time to analyse it. It is true that this sport needs to get out of the monotony in which it operates.
“The question is if the big riders are able to ride all three Grand Tours. You may say it’s physically possible, but that span, three months almost at 120%…”
Froome said last month at the World Championship that he needs to decide on his schedule with Team Sky and that he would wait until the Giro and Tour routes are presented.
“I think we’d all agree that seeing the best riders slug it out across the season at key races is what everybody would want to see,” Sky’s team manager, David Brailsford said.
“From a performance point of view, it’s quite a serious undertaking. But, from a conceptual point of view, I’m sure from a fans’ point of view, from a sporting point of view, I think it’s [Tinkov’s idea] got a lot of merit.”
“You’ve got to think about new challenges and new ways of doing it. But then you’ve also got to look at the performance side of it.”