Alberto Contador: ‘Oleg Tinkov has a lot of money but didn't know how to manage a team'

Spanish Grand Tour star Alberto Contador has no regrets about Oleg Tinkov's departure from the world of cycling

Oleg Tinkov (right) with Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador says "fortunately" his time with Oleg Tinkov is finished and he is starting the new 2017 season with team Trek-Segafredo.

The Spanish Grand Tour star has raced the last six years with team Tinkoff, led by out-spoken and controversial owner, Russian Oleg Tinkov.

"He has been part of my career, which fortunately is finished," Contador told Spanish radio Cadena SER.

"I have new challenges ahead now. I will not waste energy on him. He doesn't do anything for me. He has a lot of money, but doesn't know how to manage it."

Tinkov criticised his star riders Peter Sagan and Contador over the years. He once complained that he paid Sagan too much. He criticised rival team managers. And in 2015, he made racial comments about US President Barack Obama.

He left cycling and closed his team, forcing some 60 to 70 employees to look elsewhere. Sagan signed for Bora-Hansgrohe and Contador for Trek-Segafredo. Before leaving, Tinkov took another swipe at the rider who brought him three Grand Tour wins.

In October, Tinkov said that Contador "as a person, never appealed" to him and that he is a "sad person" who "never drinks Champagne".

Contador won the Tour twice, the Giro twice and the Vuelta three times. With team Tinkoff, he won the 2015 Giro, and 2012 and 2014 Vuelta. He appears to have left for Trek-Segafredo without regrets.

>>> ‘Cycling needs someone like Oleg Tinkov with a bit of personality. He will be missed’

"If those statements came from a person that you had affection for, then you'd care. In my case, it does not affect me at all," Contador added in the radio interview.

"I was taught a set of values, among them respect, you should always have respect for people.

"There are people who perhaps do not think that way, that's the way I see it. I'll drink Champagne with friends, not with him [Tinkov]."

Alberto Contador with Oleg Tinkov on stage 21 of the 2014 Vuelta a España. Photo: Graham Watson
(Image credit: Watson)

Tinkov bought the team from Bjarne Riis in December 2013. He kept Riis, the 1996 Danish Tour de France winner, onboard as team manager until the spring of 2015, when he parted company with the team by mutual agreement.

"I knew that everything would change with his departure," Contador said. "He was a team leader who could manage a group of 70 people. You can go in with a lot of money but you must have a number of capabilities to manage. Bjarne Riis had them and Tinkov didn't."

>>> Alberto Contador rider profile and latest news

Contador is building to take on Sky's Chris Froome in the Tour this July 1. He will skip the Giro in his lead-up.

"I'm preparing with the thought of winning the Tour. If you want to win, you have to see it and believe that you can win," he added. "I would not sign up for anything less than winning the Tour."

His season starts with the Vuelta a Andalucía on February 15.

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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.