Oleg leaves the building
I will miss crazy Russian millionaire Oleg Tinkov the same way I missed former UCI president Patrick McQuaid. The comedy has left the building.
Like McQuaid in his prime, Tinkov was an endless source of bombast and foot-in-mouth lunacy. Both were always good for an inflammatory quote, personal attack, outrageous remark and witless boast. It’s like the head clown leaving the circus and never coming back to town.
In short, we’re sad in purely entertainment terms. Tinkov was the guy with the stick who kept hitting the bee hive of pro cycling. He just loved stirring things up and didn’t care how many people got stung. He was a camera hog, publicity hound and media peacock.
Like the King’s fool, his role was to provide both laughter and then surprising insight and truth. And both felt like jokes when he delivered them. He had a Russia-sized ego with absolutely no filter in sight. He had the classic, boorish, “I’m rich so I can say whatever I want” mentality. Which makes him sound a lot like US presidential candidate Donald Trump, another man who long ago stopped caring with anybody else thinks.
In my view, Tinkov misstates his credentials as cycling reformer and savior. His proposals were always more about the noise generated and then the actual hard work of building consensus for a new way forward. Like his million dollar prize to get all the top grand tour riders to ride all three grand tours, is goals were always more about marketing. He didn’t have the patience for the task of reform or the ability to compromise.
On that score, I won’t miss the man for one second. Then again, beggars can’t be choosers and even lunatic sponsors are at least sponsors. That’s something pro cycling has in very short supply. He wasn’t the best advertisement for the sport but at least he injected some energy into the proceedings. But in the end he was a packet of firecrackers that made plenty of noise but signified nothing.
Will his star riders Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan miss him? That’s doubtful after they both endured his clumsy and demeaning attempts at motivating them. Bjarne Riis could barely stand to be in the same room with Tinkof. He’s like the drunk at the party — really funny for the first 30 minutes, then tiresome for the next four hours.
Goodbye, Oleg. Like McQuaid, you were an inexhaustible supply of comedic material. We will miss you but then again, we won’t.