Oleg Tinkov should use his €1m to start an amateur team, says Vincenzo Nibali

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

Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador on stage eight of the 2014 Tour de France
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

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.

"If I was Oleg Tinkov," Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali wrote in Twitter, "I'd use the million euro to create amateur teams for a good future."

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.

Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana, Tour de France 2013, stage nine

Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana, Tour de France 2013, stage nine
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome during the 2013 Tour de France

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."

More on Oleg Tinkov's €1m Grand Tour challenge

Brailsford backs Tinkov's €1m Grand Tour challenge

Oleg Tinkov offers €1m to top riders if they ride all three Grand Tours

Tinkoff-Saxo team owner and businessman Oleg Tinkov wants to see Froome, Contador, Nibali and Quintana race all three 2015 Grand

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.