Oleg Tinkov will give one million euros to cycling’s top four Grand Tour riders – Chris Froome (Sky), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) – if they race all three Grand Tours in 2015.
The Russian businessman and owner of team Tinkoff-Saxo, home of Contador, said that the four can divide the money – €250,000 each – or put it all up for best placed rider.
“It comes from my desire to see all the great champions in the three biggest races of the year,” Tinkov told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.
“We spoke about it in August and then at the Vuelta a España we were able to take our idea to David Brailsford of Sky, Alexandre Vinokourov of Astana, for Froome and Nibali. Now, we need to talk to Movistar for Quintana.”
After winning the 2014 Giro, Colombian Quintana said that he will skip the Giro to try to win the Tour. He won the white jersey of best young riders and placed second overall in 2013 behind Froome.
Froome and Nibali have yet to announce their plans for 2015, but both riders are expected to focus on the Tour.
“It’s interesting that he’s decided to do the Giro d’Italia,” Froome said last month at the World Championship, “I know how hard it is to do two Grand Tours back to back.”
Froome only once raced and finished two Grand Tours, in 2012, he placed second in the Tour and fourth in the Vuelta.
“Contador will also race the Vuelta if Nibali, Froome and Quintana accept this challenge,” Tinkov added.
“Everyone has to make a push to make this happen. I spoke to Froome personally and he was very interested. It would be the biggest sporting initiative of 2015.”
Tinkov’s idea to have the best riders in every big race is something that cycling’s governing body is considering in its 2017 calendar reform. It would please the fans and make race organisers happy, but may not be physically possible for top-level cyclists.
“Is it possible? After I saw the route of next year’s Giro d’Italia, I’m more convinced it is,” Tinkov said.
“The course is hard and impressive, but not cruel. There are very few transfers, short stages and a mild final week.”
Jonathan Vaughters, manager of Garmin-Sharp, agreed with Tinkov’s idea. “In every successful sport, the best athletes compete against each other, all year, in the biggest (same) events,” the American wrote in Twitter. “So, yes, I agree.”