Team Saxo Tinkoff backer pulls out over failure to win Tour
Nicolas Roche’s team will have to find a replacement sponsor
Team Saxo-Tinkoff took the best team award at this year’s Tour de France, but now need to find another sponsor. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Although he suggested before the Tour de France that he could expand his investment in Nicolas Roche’s Team Saxo Tinkoff in order to become the title sponsor, Oleg Tinkov will now walk away and leave a €6 million hole in the budget.
The Russian businessman was dissatisfied with the fact that Alberto Contador did not win the race and faulted the Spaniard for being, in his estimation, overpaid and undertrained.
Contador was sitting second overall behind Chris Froome (Sky) until the final mountain stage last Saturday, but then cracked and dropped to fourth.
Team owner Bjarne Riis announced the split with Tinkov yesterday, saying that they had disagreed on the way to run the team.
Roche, who is in the first year of a two year deal made possible by the increased budget Tinkov brought, said he hopes that the team can find a replacement sponsor soon.
“There is not much I can say about it. I read about it this morning as well,” he told The Irish Times. “I don’t interfere with any of that side of things, so I’ll let the team get on with it.
“Hopefully they can find something else.”
It is not clear if any of the riders’ jobs could be threatened if a new backer is not found.
Roche rode in support of Contador in the Tour and also did very important work in helping the Saxo Tinkoff squad take the best team award.
“That was nice. I felt we deserved it,” he said. “We attacked every single day of the Tour. To be on the podium in Paris for the first time was nice.”
He is next due to line out in the Clasica San Sebastian tomorrow, then will ride two criteriums in France early next week.
After that he will have a break from competition until the Vuelta a España, where he will likely have much greater freedom to chase his own results.
Contador has already said he will not take part in the race.
Ireland’s Dan Martin will ride, using the Spanish tour as part of his buildup for the world championships.
In other news, Ireland’s top BMX rider Kelvin Batey has taken a superb gold in the masters event at the BMX world championships in New Zealand. He defeated the Dutchman Dorus Brink and Luke Pretlove of Australia.
“It’s taken 25 years, but it’s definitely worth the wait. Finally . . . world champion,” he said.