Oleg Tinkov will return to cycling with a budget of £9.12-10.78m (€11 to 13m) a season, according La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. Various media outlets report the Russian businessman will take over Danish WorldTour team, Saxo-Tinkoff this afternoon in London.
Current team owner and 1996 Tour de France winner, Bjarne Riis will continue in the team as an employee. According to the article, he will work for £830,000 (€1m) a year as Tinkov’s team manager. The newspaper added that Riis will make £4.97 (€6m) for selling his first division licence.
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Star rider, Alberto Contador wants Riis to continue considering the rocky relationship with Tinkov. Tinkov, who co-sponsored the team for 18 months, criticised the Spaniard on Twitter during the Tour. He wrote, “His salary doesn’t match his performance. … He must work harder.”
Contador confirmed to Spain’s Marca newspaper today that he staying with the team through 2015. “I don’t have plans not to continue with Riis,” he said. “I have signed this year and next. I’ll ignore what has been written or said otherwise.”
Riis began the Danish team from the ashes of team home-Jack & Jones in 2000. Along the way, he dealt with his share of doping controversy. In 2007, he admitted that he used EPO en route to winning the 1996 Tour. A year before, investigators in the Operación Puerto case linked his star rider Ivan Basso. The Italian abandoned the 2006 Tour before it began and later admitted his connection.
An investigating by the Danish sports federation and anti-doping agency is putting pressure on Riis these days, which could have encouraged Riis to sell. They are examining claims from former cyclists Michael Rasmussen and Tyler Hamilton that Riis encouraged them to dope.
Riis will reveal the full details of the deal this afternoon at Google’s office in London. The internet company’s cycling channel GCN will stream the event live. The location, however, led to speculating that Google will sponsor the team in 2014.
Saxo Bank already reached deeper into its pockets to continue the team. After Tinkov announced this summer that he would not continue as co-sponsor, the Danish bank said that it would cover the £4.97m (€6m) gap.
Tinkov may have a deal to continue Saxo Bank or plan to use his own money. Shift Active Media, which manages GCN, said Google is simply hosting the meeting. “We are using the Google venue for technology reasons (live stream),” read a message on its Twitter account. “That’s all.”